As he does every year the week of the Super Bowl, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell held his state-of-the-NFL address. And this year was no different. But after 12 years as the commissioner of this once great empire of Sundays, ‘the commish’ has managed to take this league to places its never been before. He is responsible for generating record-breaking revenue in his tenure. And, at the same time, he has managed to take a laundry list of issues that made the type of news he could do without, and turn them into behemoths! How you say? Through unethical behavior, lies, and indecisiveness. In short, Goodell has put profit above ethics & morals.
I will demonstrate through my ‘transparent commissioner’ state-of-the-NFL Q & A. The questions are presented by the people of America that we at PG represent. The commissioner of the NFL, one whom is transparent, honest, and offering no excuses or apologies for my poor decision-making skills, is played by yours truly. Let’s begin the presser:
Patriot Gaines: Commissioner, when the issue of concussion protocol comes up, you often have the same emotionless response about the NFL’s policy. But yet, even recently, we have seen these protocol’s enforced differently in game situations throughout the season. Explain.
Transparent Commish: While it’s true that we are concerned about the safety of all players, some players are more important for viewership that drives our revenue stream. I mean, fans are not going to get excited about watching third-string quarterbacks starting or finishing a game.
Patriot Gaines: You say you have a firm domestic violence policy in place now. But how do you explain some of your past encounters with addressing domestic violence?
Transparent Commish: All NFL players understand the serious nature of domestic violence and what that entails. This is something that has been shared with them all throughout the year. It will not be tolerated.
But there are times when the facts may be fuzzy and further evidence must be investigated before passing judgement on a player accused of such. There is also times in which a high-profile player has beaten the crap out their significant other and we’ve known about it, but never imagined that fans would end up seeing what we saw. That truly was a regrettable moment for all.
Patriot Gaines: When the issue of kneeling during the anthem first came up, we seem to recall that the original NFL policy stated that all players were required to stand for the anthem. Though you threatened to stop it at one time, you eventually embraced it. What changed?
Transparent Commish: At first, I saw the players action as disrespectful and threatened to take action. Then I realized their was much more at stake here. So then, I let each team decide how to deal with it. Some would come out for the anthem, others stay in the locker room, some sit, some stand, some kneel, some hold up signs or wear messages on their shoes.
Frankly, I allowed it to turn in to a circus* because I was too afraid of getting backlash from players that might view me as a racist. Then I noticed our viewership dropping over the whole issue. That’s when I threatened, again, to take action against the players. But, once again, I had to chicken out because the players union threatened to get involved. Plus, once the president opened his mouth about it, I decided to “stand on kneeling” with the players because, frankly, I hate Trump!
NFL television ratings fell 9.7 percent during the 2017 regular season, according to numbers registered by Nielsen.
A typical game was watched by 1.6 million fewer people this season as compared to last season (14.9 million versus 16.5 million).
While the NFL has season a steady drop in attendance and viewership directly related to the time in August of 2016 (when Colin Kaepernick first took a knee), both the NBA and MLB have seen increases during this period.
Patriot Gaines: You noted in your answer that you recognize that some players were demonstrating their disapproval of social injustice that is not being properly addressed. So how is it you allow or even reward some displays of protest, while punishing others?
Transparent Commish: Again, we are dealing with perception versus reality. The perception is that we are picking and choosing. But in reality, we are simply following the guidelines that PC society has made for us. Therefore, Tebowing is not OK because stopping to honor a Christian God is frowned upon in society. But social justice, even though it’s something that can never be accomplished one hundred percent, must not be tolerated even if the players protesting cannot even make up their minds about what the protest is about!
Patriot Gaines: Now, not to drag this issue on any more than necessary, but if kneeling was such an important issue at the beginning of the season that nearly every team was participating in this rather disruptive, disrespectful and denigrating display of protest for a particular cause (which still is not clear to this day), then why were only a small handful of teams still kneeling at the end of the season?
Transparent Commish: Well, when you put it that way, it does look pretty foolish. But since the players have owned us, and we had to redirect $100 million dollars in charitable funds for their charities, while taking it away from other charities, the players can now pretty much do whatever the hell they want to with this issue!
Patriot Gaines: We were discussing concussions earlier in the conference in regards to current rules that supposedly protect players safety. Now commissioner, with the obvious damage caused by CTE ( Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) and the number of former players that are struggling to overcome the damage from their playing years, and simply are trying to lead a normal pain-free life, what would you tell current players and youngsters that worry about this happening to them? And how are you helping these ex-players get their lives back?
Transparent Commish: I would tell them that now that the evidence is out there for all the world to see, we then decided we must take action to educate and prevent further damage to the brain caused by CTE. Young players and leagues must take the necessary precautions to protect the head from trauma. And since those leagues don’t have to worry about selling “big hits” through NFL films, like we do, the. They don’t have to worry about lost revenue. As far as ex-players, we are throwing them some money now that they took us to court. We could not hold out any longer. And for the record, I’m not taking any questions about Mike Ditka. I love Mike. But we are not going to go there.
Patriot Gaines: You tell your fans that you’ve had a great year, despite the huge drop in attendance and loss of TV revenue like never before. How can you lie so easily to everyone when we have the numbers right in front of us?
Transparent Commish: Hey, just because I’ve been caught lying before does not mean you have to be so blunt about it. Yes, we had some setbacks. But I don’t like to talk about it because I’m the revenue king. And I believe we’ve righted the ship and our fans will be back; and besides, I don’t like to talk about losing money. It hurts me and makes me look bad.
Patriot Gaines: AmVets wanted to air their commercial supporting veterans and asking people to stand for the flag. It was done in good taste and did not appear to be controversial. Why would you reject AmVets, and once again slap veterans in the face, simply because they want to air this patriotic display during the big game?
Transparent Commish: As you can see, we’ve spent far too much time on this issue already. AmVets is a fine organization. But we are not talking about this issue during this biggest game of the year.
Patriot Gaines: Finally, with all the fans that have left and said they won’t come back because of all the issues that you have failed to address to their basic satisfaction, what do you have to say to them?
Transparent Commish: The NFL still offers a great deal of entertainment. We are committed to keeping our entertainment value high. But if you are distracted by all of these other issues, then you probably should just go do something else.
Super Bowl LII will be played on Sunday February 4th in Minneapolis, MN at U.S. Bank Stadium. I will be at home having great family time and making new memories. I won’t be watching…and probably won’t be returning as a fan until Roger Goodell resigns.
(Chris Gaines is an author and Editor-in-Chief for Patriot Gaines. He resides in the Cedar Valley of Northern Iowa with his wife, Jen, and two kids, Patrick & Megan.)
Photo Sources: si.com, NYT, USA Today
Statisitical Sources courtesy SB Nation, Jeff Hartman, 1.31.18
*The Commissioner changed his position seven times on the Anthem Issue going back to August 2016.