The Good, the Bad, and the Goodell

Matthew HectorContributor INovember 17, 2008

The National Football League is the most dominant sport in the United States, and many people have fought hard to make it that way, starting with the first ever NFL Commissioner, Jim Thorpe, all the way to, arguably the best commissioner of NFL history, Paul Tagliabue.  

But, current NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, is screwing up all of the hard work that the previous eight commissioners achieved by making the NFL into a “pansy” game (according to Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu).

You must give Goodell some credit, as it is hard to follow up someone as good as Tagliabue, who took care of the major issue that came up in 1992 when a court ruled the NFL's Collective Barging Agreement with players invalid because of their anti-free-agency rules.

The ruling gave the players free agency and had the NFL in a panic that the WLAF was put on hiatus and expansion was delayed, but he was able to get a new agreement with both free agency, that made the players happy, while establishing a salary cap that kept competitive balance.

Tagliabue also started building developmental leagues for the NFL. Establishing a spring league known as the World League of American Football, the league acted as a training ground for players trying to make NFL rosters.

In addition, Tagliabue would put expansion on the table. Tagliabue also saved the league from turmoil as the city of Cleveland vowed to fight the NFL at all costs to prevent the Browns form moving to Baltimore.

Tagliabue negotiated a compromise, where the city of Cleveland would get an expansion team and a new stadium funded by the league, while keeping the Browns history, but the current players would be allowed to move to Baltimore, establishing a new franchise. 

The need for stadiums would see the Oilers shift to Nashville and has made NFL franchises and the cities that hold them some of the most valued commodities. He also made sure that Houston received another team a few years after the move.

Goodell really has handled things poorly so far as commissioner. An example is how he handles the players around the league that run into legal trouble. An epidemic of players being arrested began to reflect badly on the NFL.

To send a strong message, Goodell would begin stepping up punishment for players involved in legal incidents including Adam “Pacman” Jones of the Tennessee Titans, who was suspended the entire 2007 season after a series of arrests culminating with a Las Vegas Nightclub shooting that left a man paralyzed. 

What he did there was all well and good, but he let “Pacman,” who is currently a member of the Dallas Cowboys, to remain in the league after that incident. Even worse, “Pacman” messed up just recently when he knocked out his team assigned body guard at a party.

Goodell’s answer? Suspend him for only four games and make him attend rehab.

In addition, he suspended Chris Henry of the Cincinnati Bengals after being arrested and convicted several times and is still letting him play in the league, and he also suspended, then Chicago Bears defensive tackle, Tank Johnson for eight games after being caught with enough ammunition to stage an invasion of Canada.

But Mike Vick’s cousin kills a few dogs on Vick’s property, and he gets thrown in jail and suspended indefinitely. I really don’t believe that he handles suspensions that involve the law very well.

Goodell also took down what could be considered one of Tagliabue’s better ideas, by taking out the NFL development leagues. The development leagues were a great asset to the NFL, as those players who were drafted, but could not necessarily make the team right away, could stay in shape and play football.

The greater and only league to really stay up, NFL Europa, fell through a few years ago, as Goodell believed that it was hurting the league financially. What really happened was Goodell basically laid off over 200 NFL hopefuls and lost them to the Canadian Football League of all things.

Goodell has ruined all that the great Paul Tagliabue made in the NFL, and he is hurting the league’s popularity by enforcing a bunch of silly rules. If there was only a way to impeach the commissioner of the NFL, it would be best for the league.