Roger Goodell is one of the most polarizing figures in sports today. For years fans and players alike have voiced their displeasure with the current commissioner of the NFL. This week, Goodell signed a contract extension that will pay him $40 million annually and keep him in the commissioner’s chair through the 2023 season. I’m here to tell you why this extension may spell doom for the NFL in the coming years.
The current state of the National Football League is difficult to comprehend. The 2017 season has been marked by controversy coming from many different directions. The season kicked off with protests during the national anthem, a subject that has been discussed over and over for the past few months. The protests left fans, players and owners divided, who should they support? Is it hurting the NFL to have players protest?
That all came to a head when President Donald Trump made a comment regarding the NFL’s protests on Twitter on October 11th. That weekend the NFL took a stand together, owners and player condemned Trump’s comments and for once the NFL seemed united, well that wasn’t really the case. Commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement that many, including myself, felt was a cop-out of sorts.
“The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture. There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we’ve experienced over the last month.”
It’s not news that many NFL owners supported Donald Trump on the campaign trail but what did come as a surprise is that those same owners condemned his actions when it came to their players. That wasn’t the case for Goodell, his statement began a season marked by controversy.
Let’s fast forward to Monday night, the Steelers took on the Bengals in Cincinnati. Early in the first quarter, Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier went to make a tackle and injuring himself to the point he had no feeling in his lower extremities, a scary scene. Shazier was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital. As the game continued it only got uglier. Steeler’s rookie WR JuJu Smith-Schuster made an illegal block on Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict, one that landed Schuster a one-game suspension. Sounds like it was warranted right? It’s honestly not that simple.
Over the last month, suspensions in the NFL have been coming fast and furiously. Those suspended included superstars like Rob Gronkowski, Aqib Talib, Michael Crabtree and Mike Evans. All these players received the same punishment but did all the incidents fit the crime? That’s where Roger Goodell comes in, the Commissioner has a decent amount of power in the discipline process. That means that all these decisions went through the vetting process and somewhere along the way Goodell signed off on them.
The issue with all these decisions is that there is no consistency. Schuster has no history of dirty hits but was suspended nonetheless. Crabtree and Talib were suspended for a fight, they have had a history in the past but AJ Green and Jalen Ramsey only saw fines for basically the same incident. This topic was something Steelers safety Mike Mitchell, someone who has been disciplined repeatedly by the NFL, was not shy talking about this week:
“I’m gonna mess around and get hurt trying to protect an offensive player because he’s running an over route. Dammit, your quarterback shouldn’t have threw that ball messed up. That happened two years ago. I’m not joking at all. Andy Dalton threw a ball to Tyler Eifert two years ago. Tyler Eifert had to dive for it. I was aiming for his gut, but if he don’t dive, he don’t get hit in the head. That’s 50 grand out of my pocket though, because Andy throws a bad ball. Make that make sense. And at first you’re taking our money, but now I got ******** like Matt Hasselbeck calling me a dirty player and trying my character, and we never met before.”
Mitchell went on to call out Roger Goodell by name, saying that the players need to look at the leadership that they are endorsing. Well, with this contract extension announcement, the players really have no choice in the matter. They will have to live with Goodell for the foreseeable future. If things don’t change and change fast, we are bound to see more and more of these issues coming to the surface.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the NFL? Tweet your thoughts @TheUtilityMan on Twitter.
– Jackson Hayes