Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Goodell Gone

Roger Goodell in the last few weeks has undone decades worth of NFL credibility built by Pete Rozelle and Paul Tagliabue.  It is time for the owners to wake up and find a new commissioner.  The owners are in large part to blame for the fiasco involving the league's officials.  But Goodell is their waterboy.  Add in the mess of Bountygate and the NFL's atrocious handling of head injuries and it's clear Goodell's time has come and gone.

Thanks to the scab officials that are working NFL games, the sport is unwatchable.  Last night as I watched a defensive back run through a tight end with no pass interference being called it was enough to make me turn off the TV.  People watch pro football regardless of their rooting or betting interest because the game is entertaining.  Some of the best athletes in the world going full speed, blowing each other up and making mind-blowing plays is great fun to watch.

But seeing incompetent officials blow play after play and slow the game down to a crawl is not.  Unless you have a rooting interest or even money on the line, why watch?  I think the longer this strike goes on, the NFL is going to see its massive television appeal start to fade. 

The 2008 economic downturn should have been a wake up call for the NFL.  The league seemed to ignore the problem some teams were having selling out games.  The cost of seeing a game in person costs a small fortune.  Talk about taking a family of four to a game and you're looking at a house payment.  The owners and the players are pricing themselves out of the market.

Then there's Goodell's awful handling of the New Orleans Saints.  It's embarrassing that Goodell  holier than thou edict suspending Saints' players was overturned.  It looks as if the Commish went into the investigation with a predetermined outcome.  I'm not saying the player's shouldn't be held accountable but given the short careers NFL players enjoy, a year long suspension just seems unjust.  The players didn't commit a crime.  They played dirty football and that goes on all the time.  Just witness some of the recent hits in these scab officiated games.

And finally the NFL has a concussion problem.  Goodell has nothing to get out in front of the issue.  The problem has been lingering for the better part of two decades.  Stories like Mike Webster's and John Mackey's didn't wake up the NFL, nor did suicides like Dave Dureson's. 

The league is finally conducting the kind of studies and has instituted rules regarding concussions but Goodell was really late to admitting the league has a major problem.  NFL football is violent and that's a big part of the appeal.  But you can have great, hard hitting football without shots to the head.

The NFL needs a clean slate.  It needs the contract dispute with its referees brought to an end, now.  The owners then need to start the search for a new commissioner as soon as it gets its best officials back on the field.

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