Goodell needs to start thinking about his legacy

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I’ve mentioned during PFT Live on a few occasions in the past week the possibility that Commissioner Roger Goodell’s legacy will be impacted in a negative way by the confusing events of an unpredictable 2011 offseason.  The league and the owners entered into the lockout under the apparent assumption that no damage will be done to “the Shield” as long as regular-season games aren’t missed.  The events of the past seven-plus weeks confirm that they badly miscalculated the impact of an offseason lockout.

As Rosenthal pointed out in the days after the doors slammed shut for the first time on March 12, the NFL has become a victim of its own success.  Millions of fans follow the sport not just from August to February but from March to July, with the numbers going higher and higher each and every year.

But not this year.  Even though every game on the schedule may still be played, many fans have become emotionally detached.  Those who have yet to choose numbness have opted for anger, as demonstrated by the cascade of loud boos that poured out of the balconies at Radio City Music Hall onto Goodell at the outset of the draft.

Privately, the league has shrugged at the reaction, pointing out that the same fans who will collectively jeer Goodell individually will still cheer him when given the chance to pose for a photo or ask for an autograph.  That’s a dangerous attitude for the NFL to adopt; even the most unpopular president will still be met with wide eyes and warm hearts because of the office he holds.  Thus, the fact that Goodell enjoys a much more favorable reception in small groups in no way undercuts the reality that, right now, the mob doesn’t like him.

Goodell has said that he is the Commissioner of every football constituency, but not many fans believe that.  Most regard the Commissioner as the representative of the owners.  Though he tries to be a guardian of the game, he doesn’t seem to be inclined to guard it from the damage that the owners may be doing to it.  And given that his predecessor, who guided the league from labor uncertainty into years of peace and prosperity, will be getting into Canton only as a visitor, Goodell legitimately should be worried about whether the achievement of his lifelong goal of becoming the Commissioner of the NFL will translate into the immortality that comes with having a bust in the Hall of Fame.

To get there, Goodell needs to be the one who fixes the current mess, sooner rather than later.  Currently, he’s coming off as a bystander at best, the owners’ hatchet man at worst.  Because it’s the owners who hired him and it’s the owners who pay him, it’s not surprising that Goodell has not assumed a more neutral role in trying to bridge the divide between management and labor.

But he can’t be both an employee of the owners and a true steward of the sport.  To be the latter, he needs to be willing to put the former at a little risk.  Or more than a little risk.  At a time when the owners are so unified that they’re listen to no one, Goodell needs to be the voice of reason that gets them to focus not on short-term gains but on the long-term interests of the game.

During yesterday’s PFT Live, Tom Curran of punctuated that point with a compelling example.  So we’ll give Curran the last word.  (If you’re viewing this via the iPhone, iPad, and/or Android apps, you’ll need to get to a computer and pull up the PFT Live home page to see the video.  And, yes, we would have preferred to end this item with something other than a parenthetical that points out our current technical limitations.)

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67 responses to “Goodell needs to start thinking about his legacy

  1. What about De Smith’s legacy? Oh that’s right, it only applies to the evil owners and their hired gun. Please, just stop.

  2. In my mind Goodell’s place in history will be solidified when the union folds like a cheap suit. So maybe he is already thinking about that legacy, eh?

  3. A little superficial dont you think? Did you forget the horrible deal the last commish signed off on? If Goodell can get all of them to sign a better deal his “legacy” will be fine.

    I think the only legacys that anyone should care about are those on the players lawsuit. Sure Tom Brady has won 3 superbowls and maybe more but if he turns the NFL into the new MLB I don’t think anyone will be talking about how great he is…only that he destroyed the best game

  4. “emotionally detached” is the best way of putting it. Also (and I say this as a rabid football fan) the idea of taking a year off, doesn’t bother me any more. Or, at very least, taking September off, and settling in for football when the weather turns bad.

  5. Wow, of some of the dumb posts done on this site over the past 6 months this has to be one of the dumbest. Anyone worried about their “legacy” isn’t worried about actually doing their job correctly.

    Can you be any further in the players corner without getting a salary from the NFLPA?

  6. The God-ell legacy will forever be known as the dictator who destroyed the game. He, like Stern for the NBA both need to get off the planet for they are wasting oxygen. Neither have a clue as to what they are doing to the sport they are supppose to be making better. Each is driving them into and under the ground at a record pace.

  7. Problem is: nobody respects Goodell…he’s a follower and NOT a leader….he wants to be everyone’s friend.

    You clearly NEED someone more experienced like a Dan Rooney who can draw the line.

  8. Goodell’s job is like that of the CEO of a company — increase owner equity. It is hard to argue he hasn’t been doing a bad job of that.

  9. Dr. Stangelove has some advice for the Commish:

    “Perhaps, Mr. President, it would be better if you were more concerned with the American people, than with your image in the history books!”

    ~ General Turgenson

  10. I am more concerned with the labor unrest than Goodell’s legacy. I hope and believe he is also. After this is resolved he can worry about things like that.

    Keep in mind his predecessor dealt with a more reasonable individual at the other end of the negotiating table. The union leader was a former player, not a life long litigator. I truely think that is the main reason why we are where we are at today. Choosing a lawyer with no history of labor negotiations and no connections to football as their leader. He is doing what he knows best, litigating.

  11. I think it might already be too late for Goodell. Compare him to David Stern of the NBA. No matter what players and fans might think of him (heavy handed with fines, accusation of influencing matches via instructions to referees etc), I think he’s a) respected and b) never mistaken for being a tool of the NBA owners. Those are 2 qualities that a good commissioner must have. Goodell doesn’t have those qualities. Can you imagine an NBA player calling David Stern a fool?

  12. Goodell makes me realize how much I took a man like Paul Tagliabue for granted.

    The NFL is turning into a circus under his watch.

  13. Eh, I think he should just worry about the lockout right now and nothing else.

  14. Any good Mr. Goodell has brought to pass to the game is currently outweighed by his shilling for a bunch of greedy old men. The insulting psl’s followed by a lockout at a time when this league has revenues approaching 10bil are blatant and obscene money grabs and illustrate that despite any affection that he has for the game that he is just another cheesy lawyer on retainer.

  15. Too late. His legacy is shot. My entire generation will be talking about his blunders years after he has faded from the sport.

  16. Right now, The Commish is following in his father’s footsteps literally step for step.

    -Both were handed a high profile job (NFL commissioner, US senator).
    -Both followed predecessors that were high profile figures (Paul Tagliabue and Bobby Kennedy)
    -Both have seemed to be over their heads
    -And while his father ended his senatorship hated and disgraced by both political parties, Roger’s looking to be headed in the same direction.

    The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

  17. If being a “true steward of the sport” means that Roger Goodell should just roll over and accede to every player demand so that “we can have football,” then no, he should NOT want that to be his legacy. Compromise is a two-way street, not a one-way street.

  18. The players want football. The coaches and personnel want football. The fans want football. The owners want an extra billion off the top.
    Goodell- “I hear you.”

  19. rolmao! always, always always its the liberals looking at poll numbers to see his next move….morals and ethics meaning nothing.
    @ 10 million dollars a year? you can stick the legacy where the sun doesnt shine.

  20. The best interests of the game are served by an agreement that makes both that players and the owners happy in the long run.

    The previous commissioner cajoled the owners into accepting a labor deal that they thought was terrible. In the process he traded short term labor peace for long term trouble.

    It is foolish to think that short term legal machinations that occur during the offseason are going to determine Goodell’s legacy. His legacy will be determined by the next 20 years.

    Telling the owners to go screw themselves might be emotionally satisfying, but it would be very bad for the long term health of the NFL.

  21. We can talk about Mr Goodell being a bad guy, but I look at the NFL and players as all having a role in destroying football. The players talk the same crap as the owners. If it isn’t about money for both sides then there is nothing to talk about… the greed from both sides will make any leader of the NFL look like an idiot!!!!!

  22. The main problem Goodell faces now is himself. I think he’s so dead-set on winning that he’s lost site of the big picture. And by winning, I mean the owners and league getting what they want–when winning should really be reaching an agreement.

    Not saying the players aren’t desperate to win at any cost either, but Goodell is the commissioner. He’s the one at the top. When all is said and done, either he’ll come out as the man who saved football or the one who ruined it.

  23. Anyone who looks out for their own legacy over the better of the organization they represent is a selfish POS.

  24. Stern and Selig are true commissioners. Neither is afraid to make the tough calls needed in that job-especially the ones involving owners.

    Can you imagine Goodell fining any owner the way Stern has nailed Mark Cuban all these years? Look at Selig-he just kicked one owner out of the game (McCourt).

    The fact is Goodell is nothing more than a high priced errand boy for the owners. His role in the scandalous “lockout insurance” TV deals tells you all you need to know about where he feels his priorities are.

    The only “legacy” he appears to be worried about is the amount of his retirement pension…

  25. A little superficial dont you think? Did you forget the horrible deal the last commish signed off on?


    Oh you mean that deal that has put more money into the owners’ pockets than any deal in the history of the sport? You mean the deal that has allowed the game to be far and away the most popular in the nation?

  26. Iv said from the very beginning, Goodell will be the only person hurt by this when its all said and done,..the owners will turn on him at the very end when a deal is done, blame him,…and in my mind rightfully so,..when you take a huge salary, and really do nothing for it but be told what to do, you deserve what you get.

  27. @chc4 …

    Your question about De Smith’s legacy demonstrates lack of understanding about Goodell’s role. You think by calling out Goodell Mike is picking on the owners.

    Wrong. As commissioner, Goodell is supposed to be representing everyone. That’s the point.

    Like all the lawyers, we’ll forget Smith when this dispute is over. But Goodell is supposed to be our guy in that room–the one representing our interests and the owners and the players. But he’s making no pretense of being the owners’ hatchet man.

    That’s also what he does when he hires the World Cup soccer guru to shove European expansion down our throats saying it’s what fans want while we beg him to STOP. That’s what he does when he insists fans want an 18-game season when polls show we don’t. He’s dead-set on supporting a handful of owners at everyone else’s expense. I just hope his legacy begins soon so his term in office can end before he does anymore damage.

  28. If they think no damage is being done they are crazy. The more this goes on the more detached I get from football.

  29. BIAS

    The fans at the draft booed but they were there.

    I would think it would be verydifficult to overcome a clear conflict of interest. You give up a (probably reasonably lucrative) career to devote full time to a site that is in some way advertiser sponsored. Clicks go down; revenue goes down.

    That has to weigh on what you think is best. The best solution for the fans is a long term solution so we don’t go thru this every 4 or 5 years. That means both sides in a room agreeing and giving something up. Doing business as usual from last year isn’t going to happen. We’re going to end up with charges of collusion at the least and and all out labor law battle that not only threatens the future of the NFL as we know it but also the other professional sports.

    The stay forces the players back into the room. At that point, the owners need to offer some type of olive branch. That’s where RG can define his legacy. RG is a marketing guy running one of the best marketing machines in the world. I am quite sure that if both sides could be forced back into a room, the machine will find a way to bring people back and publicize the return.

    RG is the face of the league and he should have been booed. But we haven’t lost anything yet. If it gets resolved in time for a full season, RG will not suffer any long term adversity. I think he’s probably smart enough to know it.

  30. I agree that he needs to start worry about his legacy. It’s not at all because of the lockout we’re having though.

    If there was no lockout, I would still expect people to boo him at the beginning of the draft.

    He is creating a terrible legacy by taking the fun out of the game. Excessive fines for good hits (a trademark of the NFL), telling people like Chad Johnson (I refuse to call him ochocinco) that they can’t celebrate the way they want, and making the draft on Thursday nights.

    Even if I was working on Sunday, the thing I looked forward to most was the creative celebrations. I looked forward to the big hits. I blame the players for the current mess. When you’re an employee, you either accept what you can get paid, ask for a raise, or leave and move to the best alternative. You don’t bite the hand that feeds you, especially when you’re being fed millions more than your alternatives can offer.

  31. His legacy? It’s already cemented. He can’t leave well enough alone.

    Covered up SpyGate.

    Changed the airing of the draft, the weekend airing had a cult status, fans waited for that weekend every season. Now we get three days during a week, guest announcers, and his glad handing on stage that makes him look like a mere jock sniffer.

    Suspending players who were accused of a crime, but allowing players who were accused of FELONY RAPE to play on.

    Changed the conference championship trophy from one of dignity and class, to some small rinky dink trinket that you would see at a flea market.

    He has no respect for players, the legal system, or NFL traditions. The sooner he is gone from this game, the better.

  32. It is with postings like this that you lose respect from someone like me, Mike. If Roger Goodell is worried about his legacy, then he would be the wrong man for the job. That’s what Tagliabue was worried about…his legacy…and what did that get him? A truly horrible deal for the owners that has created this entire mess in the first place. No, I think Roger Goodell is doing just fine. If he were to bend over for the players like good ole Paulie did, then we would probably have an NFL that closely resembles MLB instead of the last parity that the league has experienced since the 90’s. It is Goodell’s job to keep that parity flame burning for the long-term sake of the game…it isn’t his job to make sure any old NFL is played just so you can continue to get a lot of hits on your website.

    I hate to say it Mike, but you are really, truly sounding more and more pathetic in your openly rooting for the players. A win for the players here is a loss for the long-term success of the NFL. Stop being a selfish baby and think about the long-term. If it takes a year off to keep the NFL on track for the next 40 years, then I’m 100% all for it.

  33. Protecting on man’s legacy (Tagliabue) at the expense of the game is how this current mess began.

    The players, owners, and the comissioner need to remember their role as stewards of the game. Those who enjoy the priviledge of being involved in football at this level come and go. Their sole responsibility is to leave the game better than they found it. In this regard, they all are failing miserably.

  34. Your unabashed slant toward DeMaurice Smith is a joke. Talk to any lawyer in the DC-
    Virginia area and they will tell you of his reputation for litagation, plus anyone who worked for Eric Holder in the joke of a justic department doesn’t deserve any slack at all. You have lost your objectiveness!

  35. @skippy … would these be the same greedy owners that have invested hundreds of millions (if not billion) of dollars to purchase and run their teams? Are they greedy? Sure. What successful businessman isn’t?

    But what about the players? The players have a whole new type of greed … it is entitlement greed. They have nothing … NOTHING … financially invested in the league but they feel like they are entitled to as much money as the owners. They are just as greedy (if not more so) than the owners. Let’s not forget that it was the players that de-certified before the owners locked them out. In fact, didn’t they decertify while the owners were waiting for a response to a proposal and/or request to extend negotiations?

  36. I waiver. I go three or four days without logging onto this site. I’ll log on and read a couple of articles… I’ll get mad and log off.

    A little apathy… a little anger… a whole lot of wishing I liked basketball.

  37. “Sure Tom Brady has won 3 superbowls and maybe more but if he turns the NFL into the new MLB I don’t think anyone will be talking about how great he is…only that he destroyed the best game”

    Yeah, everyone is going to remember Tom Brady as the guy whose name is on a lawsuit, not as the 3-time Super Bowl champion. That might be the dumbest thing I’ve heard this week. Do you even think about what you’re saying before you type?

  38. So far, his legacy will be a joke.

    He wants to cause more player injuries by expanding the regular season.

    He wants to outsource the Super Bowl to other countries.

    He wants to expand the NFL to other countries.

    He issues completely inconsistent disciplinary decisions/fines.

    He inflames the labor dispute by writing moronic drivel Op-ed pieces that have little to no factual basis, as opposed to trying to mediate.

    Yea..this guy is on the path to becoming known as the worst commish ever.

  39. cdaws84 says:
    May 4, 2011 9:30 AM
    A little superficial dont you think? Did you forget the horrible deal the last commish signed off on? If Goodell can get all of them to sign a better deal his “legacy” will be fine.

    How do you do, Mr. Goodell? That “horrible” deal you mention was followed by the most profitable years in league history. The only owners who didn’t make money hand over fist were the ones who were terrible at running their teams (i.e. Jerry Richardson, Wayne Weaver, etc.)

    Why should owners be guaranteed a certain amount of profit for simply OWNING a team? Not much incentive for the crap teams with poor ownership to try to compete when their slice of the pie will only get bigger with a new CBA. This is a free market, sink or swim. Ownership won’t starve if the same CBA is kept in place.

  40. He is a lap dog for the owners and the worst commissioner in sports……He needs to watch David Stern and how he will handle the NBA labor problems, that guy is a real commissioner who has the game ahead of making money…….I love how the owners paraded him out there and made him give away his salary during the lock out…..dumb ass lol

  41. HOLD ON with this legacy crap. You tried it with Favre and now you’re trying it again with Goodell. What matters is that the right outcome is reached. Goodell’s legacy has nothing to do with it.

    With Favre you acted like a legacy is more important than a man’s own passion for the game. You argued that Favre should forgo PLAYING A GAME (that he loves) FOR 16 MILLION DOLLARS so that he can maintain this legacy of his.

    Just stop with the legacy stuff before it even starts.

  42. “Goodell needs to start thinking about his legacy”

    Just another way of saying “Goodell needs to start thinking about updating his resumé”.

  43. The only advice that I can offer to Goodell and the owners is, “Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered!”

    I have to problem with them trying to take more of the pie, and I respect the players resistance as well. I have no moral or ethical concerns with either side…it’s just BizNasty.

    However, the owners are the ones who have to ensure the longevity and popularity of the game, like I said…Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered!

    That’s BizNasty 101…

  44. pooponurface says: May 4, 2011 9:24 AM

    Roger Goodell will always be the man who ruined the draft in the name of prime time ratings.
    Good point…I can’t stand the draft setup now. Also, putting the Thursday night game on the NFL Network is lame…put it on a real network already.

  45. “Did you forget the horrible deal the last commish signed off on? If Goodell can get all of them to sign a better deal his “legacy” will be fine.”

    Can those who claim the last deal was horrible please offer some support? After all, it is the same horrible deal that Dan Rooney, shortly after approving it in 2006, called the best CBA in all of sports.

    It is the same horrible deal that has seen the NFL become the most profitable sports league in the history of the world.

    It is the same horrible deal that sees the NFL owners receive a larger share of the overall revenue (around 50%) than their counterparts in the NBA (57%), NHL (57%), and MLB (57% when minor league player costs are factored in).

    It is the same horrible deal that gave the owners a hard salary cap, a restrictive system of free agency, and all those wonderful things that Goodell lamented losing in his Wall Street Journal rant.

    Goodell’s legacy IS tarnished. I truly miss the leadership of Paul Tagliabue.

  46. I thought Tags was great as well, but lets not froget that it takes two to tango and the leadership of Gene Upshaw is also truly missed in this dispute.

    The “Smiths” are ruining my football life…Alex Smith, Troy Smith, Reggie Smith, Aldon Smith (? – ok jury is still out), and finally ‘DeMo’ (short for DeMolition) Smith.

    I try to hate both sides equally…

  47. Why should the owners be guaranteed a certain amount of profit for simply owning a team?! Because they simply own the team. They take the financial risk and they should be rewarded.

    Why should the players be guaranteed any money beyond what they are paid by their contract? These guys are paid a fortune to play a game and they still demand a huge chunk of the revenue … not the profit … the revenue.

    I don’t have sympathy for either party but I’m sick of the players (and the author of this article who you apparently aren’t allowed to name without having your comment deleted) portraying these guys as innocent victims of owners greed and an unprovoked lockout. I can’t stand any of them … I just can’t stand the players more.

  48. Ignornance is bliss.

    Look at the packer financials. Its all public and should be more than enough to demonstrate that some teams aren’t making money. Also look at the comments from the NFLPA all admitting that it was a steal of a deal. If it was that great of a deal neither the players or the owners would brag about how they screwed the other partner over.

    As to your second arguement….50% is less than 57%…so did you forget some words…or do you not understand that 57% is more than 50%….thus the NFL owners when compared to other pro sport receive less of their revenues.

  49. I will always remember him as the commissioner who completely over-reacted to “Spygate”. To say he was Krafts lapdog is laughable. He fined the Patriots 1/2 a million dollars for videotaping defensive signals that 80,000 fans could see from their seats. The fact that he worked for the New York Jets at one time probably had nothing to do with it.

  50. Steadfast! Not Tagliabue but was not required to be. He should have told the rude fans at the draft that kept booing to get the he’ll out of Radio City Music Hall.

  51. Why should the owners be guaranteed a certain amount of profit for simply owning a team?! Because they simply own the team. They take the financial risk and they should be rewarded.

    Why should the players be guaranteed any money beyond what they are paid by their contract? These guys are paid a fortune to play a game and they still demand a huge chunk of the revenue … not the profit … the revenue.

    There’s financial risk in every investment. That doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to make money. Especially if you do a poor job of managing your investment compared to your peers (i.e. the Jerry Richardsons vs. the Robert Krafts). It’s better for the league if these men lose money because it will either: A. force them to improve their team or, B. sell their team to an owner who gives a damn. No reason why the NFL should reward guys who make consistently poor decisions.

    As for the players, they already aren’t guaranteed any money beyond the life of their contracts. Even then, they can still be cut at any time with only the signing bonus being owed. I haven’t heard the players union discuss fully guaranteed contracts in the CBA so what’s your point?

    My point is smart owners make plenty of money and will continue to make money in the future irregardless of the new CBA terms. The NFL’s proposed CBA will only help to reward the other owners who aren’t very good at what they do.

  52. I believe the players have the stronger argument, but can certainly understand people who support the owners. What I cannot understand is all the thumbs down on criticism of Goodell.

    Criticizing Goodell is not the same as criticizing the owners. He’s the NFL Commissioner–he’s supposed to represent owners, players, and fans. Last season, most fans thought the guy was a jerk. Nothing’s changed. He’s still a jerk. He’s an extremely ineffective commissioner. You can still be rabidly pro owner without defending the guy who’s making a mess of the league.

    And, thefiesty1, he does not have the right to tell NFL fans booing him at Radio City Music Hall to get the hell out. Contrary to his beliefs, he is not the king of the NFL Universe. Fans are more important to the game than he is and they can boo him if they want.

  53. Reading this topic makes me laugh. Everyone saying Paul Tagliabue was a great commish is dead wrong and has no idea what they’re talking about. Lets look at what Goodell has done for the league:

    1. Players and drug/law abuse will NEVER be tolerated again.

    2. The draft has become an event that anyone can enjoy because its more spread out.

    3. NFL Network

    4. Prime time games have been at an all time high.

    5. Pro Bowl has been moved to a time that gets more money and ratings. (I still don’t watch it because of fan voting ruining it.)

    6. Player safety at an all time high. While some of it sucks, but its a priority to him.

    To end Goodells legacy will be defined how he gets out of this mess that was left by Tagliabue. If you don’t agree than you will never understand. For the ones that remember in 2006 where they did a temp deal, Tagliabue quickly retired. Tagliabue lived off what Pete Rozelle left him. Goodell WILL become the best commissioner by far if he can work out a deal, but right now he’s head and shoulders over Tagliabue and just below Rozelle.

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