Roger Goodell hates you. Yes, you.
Unless you are one of the select few that own an NFL franchise, Roger Goodell has no use for you.
If you are a football player, he does not care if you die at 45.
If you are a fan, he does not care what you think.
If you are an American, he does not care if your taxes go up.
Yes, Roger Goodell hates America.
This is not hyperbole – this is fact, as you’ll see below. While the Occupy Wall Street movement took on Wall Street and other leaders of industry, Goodell got a pass. While outrageous executive pay is scrutinized in all sectors, Goodell gets a pass. While Bud Selig was dragged to Washington, D.C. to answer for the drug sins of his players, Goodell gets to celebrate a Super Bowl that will be played with multiple drug offenders. He’ll get a pass.
And that, in short, is the problem. Roger Goodell will get a pass because he always gets a pass. Like any self-respecting tyrant, he has insulted himself to the point where there are no challengers.
The NFL is too big to fail because it means too much to too many. There is an army of folks – any good tyrant needs an army – whose livelihoods depend on protecting the shield. I’m not talking about just the players and coaches. There are thousands upon thousands of men and women who make a living because of the NFL.
The reporters. The announcers. The camera men. The analysts. The production teams. The advertising folks. On and on the list goes – every single person who works at the NFL Network to nearly everyone at ESPN.
With that type of protection, who cares what anyone thinks? Any opposition is snuffed out before it can gain any momentum.
In any other line of business, competition is encouraged. Where would personal computers be without Steve Jobs refusing to lay down to Microsoft? What if no one else but Henry Ford built an automobile? What if only MGM made movies? What if only ESPN televised sports?
Monopolies are bad for America. In fact, they are illegal in America. Yet on Sunday, we will gather around the television and pay homage to America’s most valuable and prominent monopoly. Even the mere mention of an NFL competitor is met with derisive laughter.
Like a North Korean election, there is no choice on Sunday. You watch the Super Bowl, or you watch nothing.
But Roger Goodell hates you, each and every one of you. Here’s why:
Obstructing Billions of Dollars and Millions of Jobs from Americans
How much money is bet on football in a given year? The number is almost impossible to determine because the NFL has led a crusade against sports gambling since its formation.
In 2011, $3.2 billion was gambled on sports in Nevada. Of that total, $1.34 billion was wagered on football. One state, one billion dollars.
It is believed that Nevada could account for 1-5% of all sports gambling in the United States. Is football gambling a $50 billion industry in this country? $100 billion? And that’s just for football – could sports gambling in total be worth $500 billion?
The numbers belie the true point – the American economy needs help. It needs job. It needs revenue. And yet every year, those billions upon billions of dollars go to the underground and offshore gaming houses.
Why? Because Roger Goodell hates America.
I have yet to figure out a legit reason why the NFL still opposes legal sports gambling when it is legal in Nevada and the sport hasn’t died. The NFL doesn’t hide from gambling – fantasy football is another billion-dollar industry with weekly shows devoted to it on seemingly every cable network.
Yet when New Jersey took the lead and tried to legalize sports gambling – estimating that it would add instantly $100 million to its tax rolls in year 1 – the NFL put its foot down. Yes, the NBA, MLB and NHL* joined in, but the NFL was driving the bus and you don’t mess with the NFL.
*Why would the NHL be against sports gambling? Shouldn’t they be begging for any sort of additional attention to its sports? Besides, who the hell would bet on hockey?
The NFL’s only argument against is the sanctity of the game and the same “protecting the shield” bullshit they like to trot out to defend inane policies. Remember, gambling on the NFL is already legal in Nevada and they would be the ones who would discover any discrepancies in betting that would lead to game-fixing.
We’ve seen in Europe that the match-fixing scandals in tennis and soccer have been uncovered by the gaming houses, essentially those leagues’ best ally in curbing it. Have the betting houses on street corners in London somehow ruined soccer?
Instead, Goodell and company have hunkered down in a position that is diametrically opposed to what this country needs. Imagine a world where sports gambling is legal. Think of the added tax revenues to states and how that could help alleviate desperate budget shortfalls. Think of the added jobs, which would reduce unemployment rolls and stimulate the economy.
If Goodell pulled his objection, sports gambling would be legal in this country. But he will not.
No one will fight the NFL on this. It’s criminal, which is par for the course for Roger Goodell.
Holding Cities Hostage for Ransom
The definition of extortion is, “the practice of obtaining something, esp. money, through force or threats.”
Oh how I have waited to use that as a lede! And it is so very, very appropriate.
During the first week of the NFL Playoffs, Goodell and company exemplified the definition of extortion to the letter. They threatened three cities – Green Bay, Indianapolis and Cincinnati – with the lack of local television coverage for a playoff football game unless every ticket was sold. Yes, games played in three stadiums built and/or renovated with taxpayer money were going to be blacked out unless the taxpayers paid more money.
This is extortion!
Yet all week on ESPN and other media outlets, that word was never uttered, not even once. In fact, most of the discussion centered about the heartache and tragedy – yes, I heard the word “tragedy” used for unsold football tickets – of a Green Bay home game being blacked out. Nevermind it was going to be one of the coldest games in NFL history, nevermind that the NFL clears 9 figures from television for every playoff game, those 5,000 seats needed to be sold!
It is still extortion. And it worked. The tickets were sold. The games were televised. Everyone moved on with their lives.
The NFL is a monopoly that extorts taxpayers and no one gives a shit. It’s an amazing racket.
Holding cities hostage for ticket ransom is nothing compared to the money cities have to fork over to build coliseums of sport for billionaires. Minnesota is the latest city to be swindled, with the state chipping in nearly $400 million and the city forking over $150 million. And the club still wants more! Here’s a quote that Deadspin so aptly pointed out:
"We only have $975 million in the budget, and there's only so many things you can get under that number," said Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley.
There will never be an NFL team in Los Angeles – there will be one in London before that. Why? Because that is the NFL’s leverage against a city like Minneapolis when it plays hardball. You either give us money or we’re moving your football team.
Extortion? Just another day in the office for Roger Goodell.
Free Player Development, Shifting Blame to Universities
If you’re a qualified 18 year old in America, you can be employed by anybody. You can vote. You can die for your country. You can play professional hockey, baseball and basketball.
You cannot play professional football.
Yes, Jadeveon Clowney was more than ready to make millions in the NFL as an 18 year old freak of nature. Yet the only professional football league in the country said he couldn’t.
While every other sport in the world – literally, every single one – employs a minor league system to develop talent, the NFL relies on colleges to develop talent. Even the NBA, which could similarly rely solely on colleges, has developed the D-League for young talent, instead of forcing athletes to spend three years making zero dollars.
While colleges get hammered for not paying athletes, the NFL is absolved from using it – at zero cost – as a veritable scouting service. Even when Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany suggested the NFL create its own minor league, he was lambasted in the press.
People like Delany and other college commissioners – despite the recent news of a player union for college players – recognize the cognitive dissonance between what athletes get and what they receive. In fact, the rumblings of a Division 4 started because the revenue-generating goliaths like the Big Ten and SEC wanted to give their players more money, the full cost of attendance.
The NCAA, as they are want to do, have blocked moves like this through its own protecting the shield-like bureaucracy. Throughout this entire discussion on football players being played, no one has brought up the major reason for this – the NFL’s rules against players entering the draft before being three years removed from college.
So the NFL profits off of a system for which it pays zero, while the colleges and universities act as its minor league. This is not to say the NCAA is absolved of blame – Lord knows it’s a farce of an institution as well – but the NFL skates by with nary a mention.
In fact, there were many who believed, quite rightly, that Clowney should have not played last season for South Carolina because it would do him no good. As a sure-fire top 5 pick, only bad things could happen to Clowney if, and when, he played.
When the best option for the best college football player in the country is to not play football, something is wrong.
Do you think Roger Goodell cares one bit about Jadeveon Clowney’s future?
The Death of Players Yields No Significant Changes
Pro wrestling in 2014 looks a lot different than pro wrestling in 2004. Why? Because the fans and media were sick and tired of their favorite stars dying young. Due to a combination of drugs, overwork and head injuries, a slew of pro wrestlers died in the early to mid-2000’s, culminating in 2007 when Chris Benoit murdered his wife and his son before taking his own life.
While the mainstream media latched onto the tried and true “wrestlers take steroids!” angle, the real story came when months later when it was revealed he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Benoit’s brain was destroyed by wrestling.
Whether you like or dislike the WWE’s current storyline direction – I’m definitely the latter – you cannot argue the company hasn't taken great strides in protecting their performer’s health. There are no more chairshots to the head. There are no more piledrivers or other unnecessarily dangerous moves that could cause head or neck trauma. There are honest to goodness drug tests. There are real concussion tests – just this month, white-hot Daniel Bryan was kept away from the ring due to one.
Just this month, an NFL player returned to the field during a concussion test. The situation is so absurd that the player – who had a concussion! – was facing a possible fine.
While CTE and deaths caused pro wrestling, an industry once stuck in the Stone Age, to adopt change, it has done little in the NFL. Actually, it’s done nothing.
17 NFL players have been diagnosed with CTE post-death, including high-profile cases like with Junior Seau.
In pro wrestling, these cases caused mainstream media outcry and a demand from fans that changes happens or they will stop watching – as many viewers tune out the WWE in 2007 after Benoit.
In the NFL, these cases are causally mentioned, if at all. Ratings are going up. Fans don’t care – they don’t care if a football player dies at 45. Since they don’t, Roger Goodell doesn’t. And with the above-mentioned army of media depending on the NFL for a salary, they don’t dare upset the apple cart.
“League of Denial,” the PBS Frontline special on the NFL and concussions, was a damning account of the NFL in its 21st century role as Big Tobacco. They knew. They knew for 20 years what concussions could do. They did nothing.
ESPN pulled their support from the documentary, obviously influenced by Goodell. Imagine if ESPN, the most popular sports media outfit on Earth, ran that documentary on its airwaves. Instead, the show went largely unwatched, drawing only 2.2 million viewers.
Goodell has done little, if anything, to prevent future CTE diagnoses. The concussion policy remains a joke. While college football instituted a radical new and innovative “targeting rule” penalty, the NFL instituted rules that are uneven and lead only to calls of “this is flag football!”
There have been no safety improvements, no changes to the uniform or the padding players wear on a weekly basis – nothing but lip service. One of the most interesting parts in League of Denial is when Bob Schieffer, legendary CBS newsman, pressed Goodell during his annual pre-Super Bowl interview on concussions. Goodell deftly avoided the questions like a guilty man should.
Schieffer deserves praise for trying. Everyone else deserves scorn for failing to continue the fight. The bullshit from Goodell’s mouth about player safety continues unchallenged, despite his insistence on more regular season and playoff games.
By failing to institute new rules that properly remove headshots from the game; the sport has hoodwinked fans into calling for “true” football and changing the discussion entirely. It’s PR 101 and maybe as a Communications Director I should be impressed instead of being thoroughly disgusted.
The NFL Propaganda Machine Rolls On
Every good tyrant needs a photo op to show he is a man of the people. So it should come as no surprise that Goodell’s pseudo-PR division, ESPN, broke the news – through “sources” at first, of course – that he would be sitting outside during Super Bowl 48.
It would be comical if it weren’t presented so seriously. Yes, this news was presented without a trace of irony prior to the AFC Championship Game.
The propaganda machine will roll forward on Sunday, as Fox airs a one-hour special produced by the NFL about why America loves football, featuring celebrities and former players talking about how much they love the game and how much the game loves America. I’ll pass on the Joseph Goebbels comparison, because liking football is so not that serious but it’s still a solid piece of brain-washing.
Even NFL Films, once used to document the sport, has become the propaganda arm for the league. Have you watched an NFL Films production made in the past five years? It is a far and disturbing cry from what it was 30 years ago.
In The End, Nothing Will Ever Change
I could go on and on, but what’s the point?
The league is swindling the country again by double-charging for Thursday Night Football – everyone in America pays for the NFL Network for football games that will now be on broadcast television. This is lauded by the sports media.
A landmark settlement with former players over concussions is woefully unfair and struck down in court. How many times do you think ESPN or Fox will address that this week?
The Seahawks have dealt with a string of drug suspensions, including for the media’s new favorite Richard Sherman, and it took until Wednesday for Pete Carroll to be asked about it. How did NFL.com describe the situation?
“[T]he coach weighed in Wednesday about how this otherwise overachieving organization is dealing with the issue.”
Those damn, pesky drugs! The Seahawks are in fact, the best thing ever except for all those stupid drug suspensions that would land Bud Selig before Congress but merit only one question during Super Bowl week.
Even as I’m writing this, the NFL has announced a new digital network – NFL Now, and it’ll be “stocked” with ads – that will further integrate the NFL into people’s lives.
I love football. But in the past few years, my attention has increasingly been focused on the college game as I can’t stomach or tolerate Roger Goodell anymore.
But I’m still a Jets fan. And I still watch. And that annoys me.
Without anyone holding the NFL and Goodell accountable, nothing will change. Players dying hasn’t changed anything. Taking money out of taxpayer’s pockets – even those that don’t like football – hasn’t changed anything.
With a monopoly on football in this country and an agreement with every major American television entity, there is no impetus for change or challenge.
Together, we make football?
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