While the turmoil of the New Orleans Saints' bounty issue continues to loom over the NFL, decision makers for the league need to start leading.
All things being equal, the NFL is arguably the greatest organization in all of sports, around the world. The United States is the only country in which football, as we know it, is flooded with adoration by what seems to be an infinite fanbase.
The bounty scandal that erupted during the spring of 2012 has rendered heavy scrutiny on a sport that has been life-changing for the players, coaches and fans who would rather have no life at all rather than a life without football.
While the investigations continue to pan out for the players and coaches in question, there is an outside responsibility that the NFL, and Commissioner Roger Goodell seem to have forgotten about.
As professionals, NFL players are looked to for guidance, on and off of the field. The same is to be said of management at the league office.
The NFL is an inelastic business, meaning that, regardless of how the economy is performing, revenue and passion for Monday Night Football and Sunday tailgating will hardly diminish. The NFL was on a fast track to become America’s next great “pastime."
That train has since derailed.
Put yourself in the shoes of someone on the board of the NFL. One week there are complaints of player protection stemming from concussions, and the next the league is a harvest of trouble-makers and outlaws.
And we can't forget about the ramifications trickling down to youth leagues across the country.
With the safety of the sport in limbo, former and current NFL players have been coming out of the woodwork to complain about their experiences as players.
This is a much larger issue with youth leagues that are questioning whether or not it is responsible to let children play the sport. The death of former Pro Bowl linebacker Junior Seau. That added serious steam to the endurance of the current spectacle.
Not to say that other important events haven’t contributed to the popular conversation of player safety, but this one is perhaps the climax.
After Seau's death, his family listed his playing career as the inevitable contributor to what coroners determined to be an apparent suicide.
Negligence by team doctors.
Dishonesty in communication between players and physicians (in most part due to the possibility of losing a starting spot on offense or defense).
While almost any factor can be eyed as an impact to the current state the league is in, the real blame falls on Roger Goodell.
Goodell makes roughly $10 million annually, a number set to double to $20 million by the end of his current contract. His only job is to manage the league. A job description that can be summed up in one word: assembly.
Place qualified individuals in the roles they're best suited for, particularly when it comes to player safety measures, and see to it that each one is providing maximum effort. If Goodell doesn’t get it together soon, then we may very well see this problem get out of hand.