Kudos to the New York Times for trying to peddle this poor helpless Roger Goodellspin. This is the NFL Commissioner who has lined up a $10 million ANNUAL pay increase at a time when the annual gap between the NFL and its referees is around $3.2 million. He could literally pay for the entire gap out of his pay raise and have nearly $7 million a year left over. I don’t dispute the idea that the tight-fisted owners have made the call to lock out the refs, but don’t tell me Goodell has no agency here.
Those close to Goodell say he is concerned about the mistakes being made game after game. While Goodell is the most powerful commissioner in American sports, he is ultimately answerable to the owners of 32 teams. And as much as Monday’s game would seem to have put a spotlight on the need for a settlement — the sides negotiated on Tuesday, as they had for the past several days — it might actually have complicated matters for Goodell, who is personally involved in the talks.
Even some owners acknowledge that Goodell is in the difficult position of balancing the interests of his constituents. The league that Goodell came up in, working for the commissioners Pete Rozelle and Paul Tagliabue and many owners who had been in place well before the league boomed, is now populated by a disparate group of businessmen. Some of them have had their teams in their families for generations. Others are self-made successes in other fields. Many of them, regardless of background, are used to taking tough positions and not capitulating. They are very used to getting what they want, and they do not like being pushed around.
“Pushed around” is pretty rich. The owners locked out the refs, not the other way around. And whether Goodell is “concerned” or not, he’s the one pushing the terrible spin that the NFL wants to have more flexibility to fire bad officials in the new contract. Um, how about the product being put on the field this and every week? Are they not legitimately “bad” officials that the league office has been covering for, including on the unforgivable Hail Mary call in the Packers-Seahawks game?