Pump the brakes on all the praise for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Many have been fawning over the commish on the heels of the league’s gambling partnership announcement on Friday. The NFL will certainly make gobs of money from it (just shy of a billion according to reports).
That came just weeks after the NFL came to an agreement for a new TV package with the networks and Amazon. That, too, will see the league’s coffers swell.
The knee-jerk reaction is to give Goodell all the credit. Some in the prisoner-of-the-moment media want to hail him as the best NFL commissioner ever because the league is printing money.
No way, no how.
Let’s be honest. Anybody sitting in that chair could have done the same thing. The NFL is an easy sell. There’s no arm-twisting. People watch football at a record pace.
The reality is that when Goodell’s time as NFL commissioner is over, he won’t be crowned king for his financial prowess.
In reality, Goodell will be cited as a bad commissioner who got a lot of big things wrong and failed to “protect” the shield. Under Goodell’s watch, the NFL has gotten more black eyes than a tomato-can boxer.
Goodell swung and missed big time on Colin Kaepernick.
The commish mishandled the entire situation, only to have to admit, years later, that Kaepernick was right and the NFL was wrong.
Maybe, just maybe, life in this country could have started to change earlier had the league backed Kap, not shunned him for standing up against police brutality and for racial justice.
History will be on Kaepernick’s side. This commissioner will be remembered for allowing teams to blackball an American hero.
There’s more bad stuff.
Goodell mishandled the Ray Rice fiasco. First, Goodell said he never watched the elevator videotape which clearly showed the running back slug his then-fiancée.
Somehow, Goodell just handed out a two-game suspension. After the video was released, Rice would later be released by the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the NFL.
When it came to the cheating New England Patriots, Goodell used kid gloves.
In the wake of Spygate, Goodell fined coach Bill Belichick $500,000 and the team lost its first-round draft pick in 2008 for videotaping opponents’ coaching signals which is against the rules.
But, somehow, Goodell had the tapes destroyed before anyone could see what the Patriots had. The league could have shown clearly that the Pats were in violation of league rules. Instead, it is still up for debate how bad the infraction was, and many have turned a blind eye to the allegations.
The Patriots were also involved in Deflategate. Tom Brady was suspended for four games for his part in having game balls deflated under league specifications. Again, the league investigation was murky.
Pats owner Robert Kraft was caught in a prostitution sting in Florida. The charges were eventually dropped and Goodell let Kraft skate.
But, somehow, Terrelle Pryor was suspended for getting tattoos in college.
He also botched the Saints’ Bountygate where players were given bonuses by defensive coordinator Gregg Williams for injuring opponents. The evidence was so flimsy that the penalties against the players were eventually overturned by a former commissioner Paul Tagliabue whose investigation concluded that the coaching staff was directly responsible.
But all people want to do is count the money that is coming in under Goodell’s watch.
The NFL announced that three sports books — Caesars, DraftKings and FanDuel — will have the right to call themselves official partners of the NFL.
The NFL was in a position of power. The sports books were desperate to latch onto the league. Currently, 25 states and the District of Columbia have legalized sports betting. Many others are still working on bills.
Same with the new TV deal, which is worth a reportedly $113 billion over 11 years. Any sitting commissioner would have been able to land that deal.
If you know anything about the current state of TV, live sporting events are king.
People don’t have appointment TV anymore to watch shows. There was a time when you had to make time for Seinfeld at 9 p.m. on Thursday night on NBC.
Those days are long gone. People watch when they want and record most of the shows they watch.
You can’t record sports. It just doesn’t hold up the same way.
Most want to see it live. Advertisers love it. There’s no fast-forwarding past the commercials.
For sure, Goodell is getting too much credit for this cash windfall. The most important part of his job — keeping the league’s image intact — has been his downfall.
It’s no wonder why Goodell is usually roundly booed at the annual NFL draft.
Goodell has fumbled too often.