NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has a rarely discussed job responsibility that needs to be more widely known.
For many years now, he’s been public enemy No. 1 for many football fans, the guy routinely found in the crosshairs of criticism regarding a variety of controversial topics stemming from league decisions.
As commissioner, Goodell is the easy target as seemingly the lone “head” of the NFL. But that’s not really what he is.
While it’s probably not the only time it’s been typed online, written in print, or spoken on radio or TV, this paragraph from a recent Mike Florio PFT column on Colin Kaepernick was the first time I, personally, came across anyone detailing the central dynamic between Goodell and NFL owners when discussing controversial stances made by the league.
“There’s a very good chance Goodell isn’t simply wrong but willfully wrong. After all, he’s paid in large part to take the heat for owners who remain behind the curtain, pushing buttons and pulling levers. If cashing those enormous checks means periodically saying with a straight face something he doesn’t fully and firmly believe, it’s a small price to pay — especially in an age where plenty of people are saying with straight faces plenty of things they don’t fully and firmly believe for far less than $40 million per year.”
That’s it, the fundamental yet seldomly spoken of aspect of Goodell’s job description.
When you think about it, relative to his $40M salary, Goodell actually isn’t as powerful many believe. Why’s that? Because Goodell has 31 billionaires perpetually peeking over his shoulder, men and women who technically pay his salary, and collectively, govern the league of which he’s the commissioner.
(This responsibility is common in most businesses and companies.)
As Florio wrote, “he’s paid in large part to take heat for owners who remain behind the curtain.”
And this is far from just a talking point on the Kaepernick controversy. This dynamic blankets every general regulation set forth by the NFL.
If Goodell was the commissioner of the NFL with 32 owners all between the ages of 25 and 40, the league’s mandates and rules would probably be much, let’s say... different.
This column may read as a defense of the man who’s been the commissioner of the most profitable sports league in the world for more than a decade and has obtained wealth far beyond most of our wildest dreams.
However, all that has nothing to do with assigning ownership of a given situation or situations. Regardless of the personal success of those involved, credit or blame should always be assigned to the people who warrant it. In any case pertaining to the NFL, remember that Goodell isn’t an omnipotent league ruler. Therefore, if you’re going to finger-point, it needs to be spread around more evenly.