Rick Stroud, Bucs beat writer @NFLStroud: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder when it comes to evaluating NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. If you are a team owner, one of his 32 bosses, you marvel in his ability to grow revenues to nearly $3.2-billion a year. Franchise values have spiked, with the Dallas Cowboys worth an estimated $4.2 billion and nearly every team valued at $2-billion or more. There has been labor peace with the NFL Players’ union since the lockout in 2011 was resolved. New stadiums have popped up over the years in Minnesota and Atlanta. Newer ones are being built in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Goodell presided over two franchises being moved to the No. 2 television market in Los Angeles and the game is growing in Europe, where four games are played in London.
For all those reasons, owners are pleased with Goodell’s job performance.
But fans and players may have reason to feel he hasn’t done a good job. The NFL is too reactionary. They are into crisis management more than crisis prevention.
Player discipline has been uneven at best and negligent at worst, including the way they handled the Ray Rice and Tom Brady cases. Head trauma is a real train heading down the track but they derailed it with a relatively low settlement. They let a protest against social injustice mushroom into blackballing quarterback Colin Kaepernick that still is unresolved and headed to civil court. And the rules committee has work to do on what is a catch. Goodell’s silence on the blatant non call of pass interference that cost the Saints a trip to the Super Bowl spoke volumes.
Not sure all of that justifies Goodell’s $40-million salary. But his bosses seem happy, even if the fans are not.
Thomas Bassinger, sports data reporter, @tometrics: If you value morality, then no. The league’s handling of domestic violence has been, at best, cringey. If you value money, then yes. A $1 billion settlement for victims of chronic brain trauma? That’s it?! What a coup for the owners, who can continue swimming laps in their pools full of crisp $100 bills. To them, yes, the commissioner is doing a marvelous job. People have been predicting the fall of the NFL for years, but under Goodell’s guidance, the league’s hold on America is as powerful as ever. Controversy only makes it more compelling. We just can’t look away. Speaking of not looking away, eight million people tuned in to the Pro Bowl on Sunday.
Give that man a raise!
Martin Fennelly, columnist @mjfennelly: Goodell is doing a stupendous job, very nearly unmatched in the history of professional football. It’s a physical game, people are going to get hurt. What can he do? It’s a free country. What can he do? If owners don’t want to hire Colin Kaepernick, it’s their right. Officials are human, they are going to make mistakes. What can he do? He’s just trying to earn a living, which includes $200 million in his latest five-year deal. Goodell runs an ATM, nothing more, and the 32 owners like their money. Of course he’s doing a lousy job. That’s what they pay him to do.
If his job is to be a money machine, then yes.
Ernest Hooper, columnist/assistant sports editor, @hoop4you: Goodell apparently does exceptionally well in helping the league generate dollars and adding to the bottom line of team owners. Too often, however, he seems to be whistling in the dark instead of addressing ongoing concerns. The issues surrounding Colin Kaepernick’s inability to gain a roster spot prompted a number of entertainers to bow out of performing at the Super Bowl, but he doesn’t think it’s a problem. Player safety and concussions remain a concern, but the league plows forward with Thursday night games. Officiating? Player discipline? He’s fine with the status quo. The league needs a leader who’s proactive, not reactive. It needs someone who’s dedicated to creating solutions, not dismissive of looming problems.