Beyond the GameRoger Goodell: Bigger Than The NFL?

Some commissioners try to fix things, some try to maintain order around their league, some even try to make the league grow and prosper more than their predecessor. Then there is Roger Goodell. What? Huh?

Some commissioners try to fix things, some try to maintain order around their league, some even try to make the league grow and prosper more than their predecessor. Then there is Roger Goodell. What? Huh?

When Roger Goodell was elected the 9th president/commissioner of the National Football League, there were a few head scratches as to who this man was and why was he qualified to run the world’s most financially successful league. But he was given a little leeway and room to do his job for a little while without question, if nothing else, simply due to his unknown background and being new to the job.

Obviously taking over for a commissioner, Paul Tagliabue, who in his time took the NFL from the gridiron to a Madison Ave and a financial juggernaut, was not going to be a simple handing over of the baton. So when Roger Goodell declared that he was not going to tolerate the disobedience of NFL players, make them accountable and responsible for their actions and playing in the NFL was a privilege not a right, people stood up and applauded him and said go for it. Supporting him completely. That was in 2006.

Since that time… He has suspended and punished many offenders but in a quite uneven and inconsistent way. First, most notably Adam “Pacman” Jones met the wrath of the new commissioner with his suspension of the ENTIRE 2007 season as well as the first 4 games of the 2008 season. That suspension was viewed as controversial in the fact at the time that Jones hadn’t been convicted of anything. Yet in the eyes of Goodell was bringing a bad light to the league. Being the first main thing Goodell did as commissioner it was viewed as making a statement, allowed, and generally by the media and public applauded.

Next was Terry “Tank” Johnson and Chris Henry… Johnson was suspended 8 games in 2007 for various charges, most notably the gun charges from late 2006. Unlike Jones, Tank had been convicted, and was under legal punishment at the time of his suspension. So the shorter penalty raised a few eyebrows, but once again was applauded due to the fact that Tank Johnson was in trouble with the law and deserved his suspension.

Coincidentally, both Jones and Johnson were later picked up by the Dallas Cowboys and now neither are with the Cowboys.

Chris Henry, who also had multiple run ins with the law was also only given 8 games. Henry whose transgressions include DUI, marijuana possession and assault, only drew 8 games and made people question Goodell’s unequal punishment of the then still suspended Adam Jones who, we repeat, wasn’t convicted of any of his charges.

That brings us to the one that is the reason for this article. Michael Vick. In August of 2007, Goodell suspended Vick indefinitely. Vick who was sentenced to 19 months for charges relating to dog-fighting, was suspended by the league and Goodell later said it was in accordance with his sentence. That sentence was served. Now Goodell reportedly wants to add 4 games to the 2009 NFL season to that suspension.

Roger Goodell gave people with other charges like Bill Belichick a slap on the wrist after being caught cheating, Wade Wilson 4 games for a his purchase of HGH to help with his diabetes and Rodney Harrison of performance enhancers. And lets not forget the current suspension of Dante Stallworth for his incident in Miami, FL and the DUI/Manslaughter charges he faced there.

So, there are two cases I’m currently concerned with. And for the time being I’ll leave out Plaxico Burress whom Goodell is said to be awaiting the legal proceedings first (That’s a first). Something he didn’t do in other cases.

First Dante Stallworth. Then the main one, Michael Vick.

Stallworth’s situation in a brief, short story in case you don’t know… Driving home drunk in the morning of March 14, 2009, Mario Reyes ran out in front of his car in an attempt to catch a bus. Stallworth was sentenced 24 days in jail and 1,000 hours of community service, 2 years of house arrest, and 8 years probation. Goodell suspended Stallworth indefinitely.

Matt Jones gets a slap on the wrist by Goodell and the league despite multiple arrests and a major cocaine charge. Stallworth stood up. Took full responsibility, even when many lawyers state that he could have been acquitted on charges due to the fact that the accident could have very well happened if Stallworth was sober. Stallworth never fled the scene, called 911 and from the moment, took full responsibility. Reyes ran out in the street, not a crosswalk. Stallworth reportedly flashed his lights to try and warn him.

Quite honestly, it feels like the sentence was for the DUI alone and the probation and other punishments were the manslaughter part. Still, now Stallworth has to basically beg Roger Goodell to allow him the right to play football again, after what in reality was just a horrific accident. Sadly Mario Reyes lost his life, but that accident by all accounts would have happened even if Dante Stallworth had zero to drink.

Now comes Michael Vick. Like him or not. Argue all you want whether he deserved more or less time. Argue whether a dog’s life is more important than a human’s? People have done much worse and gotten far lighter sentences. But the issue here is Goodell.

This week Vick met with Goodell. The result, while not officially released was 4 more games. And while that might seem like not that big of a deal, here is the part I have a major problem with.

One… Vick has served 19 months. Why the additional time? He did his crime, served his time and should be allowed to continue his life. Playing football was his career. And after all said and done, should be allowed to resume that immediately. Two… 4 games for a quarterback is a huge deal. Training camp and the beginning of the season is when you get the opportunity to mix and get into a rhythm with your teammates. QB’s most importantly with their WR’s and TE’s and RB’s. Their OLines and take a leadership role on the team. 4 games is unnecessary. The man has done his penalty. Time to let him play.

Like Terrell Owens said… “A lot of the guys around the league need to speak up. I think the players’ union needs to step in because the guy’s already suffered so much, and to add a four-game suspension onto a two-year prison sentence, I mean, that’s ridiculous.”

And finally that brings me to this. Paul Tagliabue for all his knocks as a commissioner, was never bigger than the game. He put the game first and put it on the biggest stage of them all. Goodell has done nothing but constantly put himself in front of the camera and in the news. He isn’t moving the league forward. He is bringing attention to himself and putting the cleats on an acting like he is the league’s biggest and brightest star. Inconsistent suspensions, seemingly personal grudges, difficulties with the league’s NFL Network and cable companies… Seems you can’t go a day or so without ESPN reporting on something Roger Goodell is doing. Am I wrong? Or have you heard Roger Goodell in the news more in the last 3 years than you did all of Tagliabue’s 17 years.

He thinks he is the David Stern of the NFL. The league revolves around him. And the truth is he is there to maintain order, grow the game & push the product forward. Instead he is facing an uncapped year, labor issues, league revolt based on his actions and all the while smiling to the camera’s with that fake lawyer like smile. Go back to economics Mr. Goodell, it was the one thing you are good at and now are failing. Stop putting yourself ahead of the world’s greatest league. Football first, you in the back pulling the strings like a good commissioner does.

To quote those on twitter… #GoodellFAIL.

Mike Ginn

Mike Ginn

Husband, father, craft bartender, writer and content creator.

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