In the midst of the referee labor dispute, Roger Goodell has received disapproval from many players and fans around the league.
However, what fans do not see are the behind-the-scenes actions that take place in the commissioner’s decisions. Goodell responds to the 32 owner’s demands and supports them. His mission during his tenor, starting in 2006, has been to protect the integrity of the game while making it safer.
While attempting to protect the integrity of the league, Goodell’s first step was to enforce correct behavior to the players. In 2007, Goodell implemented a new Personal Conduct Policy. These new rules pertained to player behavior and use of banned substances.
His first two suspensions given were Tennessee Titan cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones for the whole season, and Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry for eight games. This policy received a lot of criticism from fans, thinking Goodell now held too much power.
In order for the players to respect the new policy, the commissioner had to enforce it in a very strict and harsh manner. The NFL had never seen players being suspended at such a high rate, but Goodell needed to show his commitment to the new policy.
Next, Goodell made rules to attempt to make the game safer. He made rule changes to protect quarterbacks and defenseless wide receivers. Helmet-to-helmet hits became a personal foul penalty, as well as leading with your shoulder, and most likely a fine would be handed out when they occurred.
A possible suspension can be issued as well. Kickoffs, considered the most dangerous play in the game, were moved from the 30 to the 35-yard line to decrease the amount of kick returns in a game. These are only some examples of changes Goodell made to prevent injuries.
To the players and fans, Goodell looks like he is changing the game for the worse. The players have to adjust to the new rules and the fans are not used to seeing football the way it is played today. The biggest injury concern these rules are meant to address was concussions. Many former players have permanent brain damage from concussions.
Goodell implemented new concussion testing systems, especially after 2,000 former players sued the NFL this past June. They are accusing the league of concealing information linking football-related injuries to long-term brain damage. The commissioner must make sure all possible concussions are reported and the players go through the correct medical examination before returning to the field.
Not only has Goodell put new rules in place, but also he has settled two labor disputes. He renewed the NFL collective bargaining agreement with the players for the next decade. He made the players happy by agreeing on a pension system for the first time in the history of the league.
Recently, he agreed with the referees on a new collective bargaining agreement. To the fans, Goodell seems like the person at fault for even locking the referees in the first place. However, Goodell represents the owners and respond to their desires. It is his job to solve the problem, but he does not create it.
Goodell has increased the league’s revenue as well. In 2011 for an example, the NFL agreed to a $15 billion television deal with ESPN through 2021. The only thing I would like to suggest to Mr. Goodell is to share some of that money with me!
Although Roger Goodell faces criticism from many, the change he has made makes the NFL a better league today. His impact on the game has been positive. He’s solved labor disputes between the players and the referees. He became harsher on player safety as well as personal conduct in an attempt to protect the league’s integrity.
The game of football today is much different than it was a decade ago. Goodell has handled every situation to the best of his ability and has made the changes necessary for the league to continue to succeed. No matter what decision he makes there will always be critics. His command of the NFL makes him the best commissioner in all of sports today.