Do you know what the biggest difference between David Stern and Roger Goodell is? David Stern really doesn't care what you think. He is under no illusions of how the public sees him, nor does he really give a damn. He's the villain, and I think revels in the label. Stern knows the NBA might once again be on the cusp of being not just the second most popular sport in the country, but the most popular sport abroad as well. He knows everyone thinks he rigs the lottery each year; he knows fans and even most players despise the superstar calls, and yet does nothing about it. I'd bet every one of Wally White's hard earned meth dollars that he has at least a sneaking suspicion that most NBA fans don't like him very much. Still — and to almost his credit — I don't think he really cares.
Now on the other hand, Roger Goodell might beginning to have the same sensation old E.J Smith did after the Titanic hit the iceberg. The NFL appears to be headed towards a precipice, not in terms of popularity, but in the power the Goodell has given himself as the league's chief steward.
When Goodell took over as NFL commissioner, he certainly had his fair share of skeptics. Would he be the owners' lap dog? Could he find ways to curtail the flamboyant Jerry Jones? How and where could he grow the game even more?
Yet during the 2007 NFL Draft, Goodell did something that would seemingly endear him to almost every football fan. Brady Quinn was projected as a top ten pick, yet went into a draft freefall. Every time Quinn's name wasn't called, there just so happened to be an ESPN camera right there to give everyone at home a nice shot of the look on the poor kid's humiliated face. After about the 17th pick Goodell approached Quinn and his girlfriend and told them they could stay in his private suite until he was drafted. No one — never mind a commissioner — had done anything of the sort before. It effectively had been a staple of the draft to watch some early twenty something be passed over and over again only to have his bewildered mug plastered on national television. Quinn was finally selected with the 22nd overall pick in the draft and came out to what sounded like sympathetic cheer. But it was Goodell's gesture which was one of the better feel good stories of the '07 draft.
It appeared at the time that the new Godfather of the NFL did have the players well being at heart. One could even make the proclamation that he even was trying save the players from themselves by cracking down on their off field transgressions as well as the helmet-to-helmet hits. Still, in the shadow of what appears to be the type of class action suite that would even make Michael Clayton's eyes pop, has Goodell's unfettered power now crossed into dictatorial territory?
No matter where you stand on illegal hits or the player's off field conduct, who bestowed Goodell judge, jury, and executioner when it comes to the discipline of said transgressions? So with regard to Jonathan Vilma's Mexican standoff with the NFL, I'm on team Vilma. If you're going to take away a guy's livelihood for year, I want to see some evidence. Call me a skeptic.
Vilma ain't backing down, and the last thing any enterprise wants is a massive round of legal discovery with their head honcho on the stand.
I don't protest to have copious amounts of insight into Jonathan Vilma's psyche, yet from what I can surmise, the Saints linebacker doesn't seem motivated by most of the luxuries that seem to inspire some of his peers. In fact, it would appear that Goodell and the NFL picked a fight with perhaps one of the more principled chaps in the NFL. A few weeks ago it was leaked to the media that the NFL would back off its stance of suspending Vilma for the entirety of the 2012-'13 season if Vilma dropped his defamation suite against the league. Vilma's response was effectively; "You try to smear my name and now want shake on it? Nah dude. I'm going to make the fight scene between Ed Norton and Colin Farrell in Pride and Glory look tame."
Vilma will and should take this tussle with the Goodell and the NFL to court. Not so Vilma can bring down the Commissioner, but to send a shot straight across the NFL's bow and help keep the commish in check. The NFL is a $9 BILLION conglomerate and hosts one of the most successful business models, not just in sports, but ever. Vilma ain't backing down, and the last thing any enterprise wants is a massive round of legal discovery with their head honcho on the stand.
If this were the NBA, Stern would be quite content to sit back and do nothing. I'm not quite sure that Goodell and the NFL are quite as flippant about their public image. For NFL fans this story isn't as sexy as quarterback battles, roster spots or certainly concussions, yet the ripple effects will be all the more important.
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Michael T Carr May 16th
Another good article, Craig Lowell.
Charlie Lobosco May 1st
This is a very compelling story because Mr. Collins is a very passionate, tough, intelligent, athelete taking on some additional responsibliity to help others as…
Scott Cohen May 1st
Charlie.. very well said.. he does have guts
Scott Cohen May 1st
but it shouldn’t require guts. .like you said it’s nobody’s business but his own
Hisham Zameeth April 30th
best player ever…..
Kareem Musa Mayowa April 29th
We don’t need to be hopeless about the situation bryant his. Because even david villa situation also up to the level of his own to…
Maritess Lim April 28th
I still believe in KOBE’s power…… He is still the best…… He will make it possible no matter what……
mimi_aragon84 April 28th
I feel no pity for him. First of all, it is EAGLE, COLORADO, not Eagleton, secondly he enjoyed success and adulation from fans from 2003…
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