Sean Payton Suspension: Roger Goodell Must Continue to Act as NFL Enforcer

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistMarch 23, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 03:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell addresses the media during a news conference ahead of Superbowl XLVI on February 3, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Roger Goodell kept his enforcer legacy alive by suspending New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton for an entire year. Some people may not enjoy Goodell's hard-line stance, but he continues to do what's best for the long-term health of the NFL.

Widespread concussion issues have shed a negative light on football over the past couple years, so Goodell has to do everything within his power to prove the league is attempting to make changes. That means his decisions aren't always going to be popular.

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 07:  Head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints walks of the field after defeating the Detroit Lions by a score of 45-28at Mercedes-Benz Superdome during their 2012 NFC Wild Card Playoff game on January 7, 2012 in New Orlea
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Even though injuries are going to occur in football whether there's a bounty system in place or not, the commissioner can't afford to let it seem like he doesn't care. Giving out a small suspension of four or five games would have simply been a slap on the wrist.

He needed to send a crystal clear message to every coach that bounty rewards won't be tolerated. A handful of games could have been ignored. An entire year makes a real statement.

The decision won't make him any friends, but that's the least of his concerns. Cleaning up the NFL and its image remains his top priority and he's been doing a great job of exactly that. It won't happen overnight or even over the course of a year or two, but he's on the right track.

It goes back to strengthening the rules against players who get into trouble off the field. At first, the players weren't happy about it and didn't like how he was attempting to be so controlling, but it's worked.

Nobody wants to take a trip to his office or get a phone call from him because they know it won't be to talk about the touchdown they scored on Sunday.

Goodell must continue to come down hard on offenders of any kind. Sooner or later everybody will get the message that he's not messing around and nobody gets a free pass regardless of their prior track record. Do the crime and you'll be doing the time.

Owners, coaches, players and fans might not like it, but they should respect it because Goodell is looking out for the country's biggest sports league. He doesn't want things to get out of control on his watch and punishments are his only way to stop any potential problems.

Some time will need to pass before Goodell's accomplishments will be fully appreciated, but his enforcer role is working to perfection.