Roger Goodell (right) meets with a local youth football team prior to the fan forum at Ralph Wilson Stadium on October 9, 2011. (Photo by Matt Warren)
Roger Goodell came to Ralph Wilson Stadium a few weekends ago to answer questions from Buffalo Bills season ticket holders. While I've been sharing quotes from that event (and will continue to do so), I'd like to share some thoughts from that event, as well.
This must have been such a unique event for Goodell because of his family ties. Before taking questions, he met with the Orchard Park Bills youth football team. On the team were some family members and/or children of close personal friends who he began talking to, but shook hands with each team member and the coaching staff. After the event, he signed autographs for each player, too, which I'm sure made their day.
Goodell's persona is so perfect for his job. He is a large man and can certainly look players in the eye when he meets them. (By contrast, think about the NBA's David Stern when he's dwarfed by draft picks.) But Goodell is also smart enough to get down to children's eye level when talking to them to make them feel comfortable instead of looming over them. When he was answering questions in the forum, he added the right amount of humor into his responses, but knew which questions needed direct answers, too.
When asked how a person can break into the business side of the NFL, he relayed his arduous journey into the league beginning with rejection letters from each NFL team and the league itself. His first internship was cut short due to labor problems in the 1980s, but he got his foot in the door. That everyman quality has served him well when dealing with fans.
After the Q&A session, Goodell took the time to mingle with the fans in attendance. Local media was set up for their press conference for about 15 minutes while the Commissioner signed autographs and met the season ticket holders in attendance.
Despite his Western New York roots, Goodell was never a Bills fan, instead rooting for teams near the nation's capital where his father was a Congressman. Goodell's brother is a genuine Bills fan, though, said the league's leader.
I'm thankful that the NFL contacted Buffalo Rumblings and allowed me to be a part of the fan forum event. They want input from NFL fans and have a large number of them that read our blog, as well as the rest of the SB Nation NFL network of blogs.
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