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GAME OF INCHES

How the Recent NFL Scandals Give Us an Unsettling Glimpse into the Current State of
the League, Our Culture, and Who We Are

You know, when you get old in life, things get taken away from you. Thats part of life. But you
only learn that when you start losing stuff. You find out lifes this game of inches. So is football.
Al Pacino, Any Given Sunday


If you dont like whats being said, change the conversation. Although this
PR strategy used in crisis management to deflect peoples attention from the real
issue is a quote from Don Draper in Mad Men; it can easily be attributed to Roger
Goodell in terms of how the NFL commissioner and the league are currently
handling the Ray Rice situation. Most people have been having the wrong
conversation. And you best believe that this is absolutely done intentionally.
Its incredibly sad that it took the mishandling of a recent string of domestic
violence issues to bring this topic to light, but Goodell also brought a lot of this on
himself due to his enforcement of the personal conduct policy, which he created
back in 2007. The personal conduct policy is used to discipline players for off-field
behavior where Goodell serves as judge, jury and executioner, in order to protect
the leagues public image. At best, it is wildly inconsistent, favors marquis offensive
players, and a nebulous, constantly changing policy that can conveniently be
interpreted to protect the leagues business interests while minimizing negative PR
fallout. At worst, its what weve been seeing play out over the last few weeks.
Enforcing players under the personal conduct policy is usually done after the league
conducts an internal investigation. Goodell alluded to this process during the
opening of his recent press conference addressing the Ray Rice incident:

Unfortunately, over the past several weeks we have seen all too much of the NFL doing wrong.
That starts with me. I said this before back on August 28th and I say it again now. I got it
wrong in the handling of the Ray Rice matter. And I'm sorry for that. I got it wrong on a
number of levels from the process that I led to the decision that I reached.

What is this process exactly? Does anyone even know what the process
involves when it comes to how the NFL investigates a players behavior before they
discipline them under the personal conduct policy? Oh wait, I do. I lived it. Let me
elaborate. I had the pleasure of dealing with the league and their investigators in
2010 while they were investigating Brett Favres alleged sexting of penis pictures
to a young game-day hostess named Jenn Sterger while they were both employed by
the Jets during the 2008 season. Jenn happened to be my client at the time. She was
also my first female client. If you recall, these pictures leaked right before the iconic
QB returned to New York for the first time since his disappointing run with the Jets,
when the Favre-led Vikings were set to face his former team on Monday Night
Football.
Just to give you a little history before we go any further, my background is
deeply rooted in sports. I worked for a sports marketing firm that dealt with some of
the worlds most elite athletes ranging from Derek Jeter to Muhammad Ali, and
everyone in between. When you called my office line and received my voicemail,
Mariano Rivera informed you to leave a message and promised that he would have
me call you back. Although this may sound like a dream job to most people, I was
feeling extremely unfulfilled. I wanted to work more closely with athletes on a
personal level by helping them build their brands, and more importantly, align them
with the right philanthropic organizations so that they could give back to the
community. After six years, I decided to go out on my own to start a boutique
branding and marketing firm that did exactly that. I worked with everyone from
World Series champions to professional skateboarders. But my niche was
specializing in helping NFL players with their off the field initiatives and increasing
their visibility by removing the helmet as we say in the industry.
For example, I once had my client take part in a comedy sketch at a sports-
themed improv show in New York City. In the routine, he portrayed an indecisive
Brett Favre ordering dinner. He was constantly calling the waitress over to change
his order, and as he informed her of his new entre selection, he would then switch
the hat he was wearing to one with different team logo on it. This was an obvious
reference to Brett Favres flip-flopping when it came to his retirement and his leap
from the Packers to the Jets and then the Vikings. The crowd went wild and footage
of the sketch quickly went viral. Over the course of just a few days, I had my clients
performance featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Sports
Illustrated, MAXIM, and on ESPNs NFL Live. Seemingly everyone saw this clip,
including Favre. When my clients team played the Vikings, Favre approached him
at the end of the game and jokingly asked, You dont think I know how to order
dinner? My client became a fan favorite and later that season was voted into the
Pro Bowl for the first time in his career. I enjoyed helping people and was proud of
my work.
In February of 2009 while I was in Tampa for Super Bowl, I met a friend for
dinner who played for the Miami Dolphins. At our table was a group of girls from
Florida State and FIU, and thats where I met Jenn Sterger. As someone who worked
in sports, I was familiar with who she was. Jenn was discovered in a very similar
fashion to Pamela Anderson when she was caught on camera among the fans during
the FSU-Miami football game in September of 2005. When the camera focused
directly on her, ABC announcer Brent Musberger, proclaimed, fifteen hundred red-
blooded Americans just decided to apply to Florida State. (Sidenote: Jenn and I
shared an elevator with Brent Musberger following an appearance once, and we were
amused by the fact that he didnt recognize her the entire time).
Anyway, the footage of Jenn from the game went viral as hundreds of
thousands of people visited YouTube to view her TV break-through. Appearances in
various publications followed, in addition to deals with ABC, Sports Illustrated, and
Sprint. In 2008, the Jets offered her a job as a game-day hostess, where during
home games, she would interview celebrities in attendance and interact with fans
by asking trivia questions. Also in 2008, the Jets offered a fourth-round draft choice
to the Green Bay Packers in a trade for quarterback Brett Favre, a future Hall of
Famer and now the most famous Jets player since Joe Namath. Although the Giants
had just beaten the previously undefeated Patriots in one of the biggest upsets in
sports history, the Jets dominated the New York headlines with the news that Favre
was coming to town. But more on this later as I want to get back to the dinner when
I met Jenn for the first time.
Jenn and I hit it off immediately. She was extremely charismatic, sarcastic as
hell, and had no problem holding her own when it came to hanging with the boys. I
was surprised to learn that she was based out of Hoboken considering that I
assumed she lived in LA for work. Since Im based out of New York, I invited her to
an upcoming charity event I was doing for my former teacher who couldnt afford to
pay the exorbitant amount of medical bills she was facing for her bone cancer
treatment. Jenn later texted me to apologize that she couldnt make the event and
asked if I represented people outside of sports. I told her I didnt but could refer her
to my friend at William Morris and would gladly work the introduction on her
behalf. Fast forward a week later, I received an email from my friend that after eight
years, he was leaving William Morris to go into the family business. I felt terrible
about the missed opportunity and contemplated taking Jenn on as a client
considering that she crossed over into the sports realm. A few days later, I invited
Jenn to join me and a bunch of NFL players for a night out at the opening of the W
Hotel in Hoboken. I greeted her outside, had her take some red carpet photos and
then we headed into the party to grab a drink where she signed her contract at the
bar. This is how I ended up representing Jenn Sterger and also how I eventually got
a first-hand look at how the NFL conducts its investigations of the leagues
personal conduct policy. And just like Brett Favres penis (allegedly), it wasnt
pretty. But unlike Brett Favres penis (allegedly), it was extremely long.
Fast forward to the evening of October 7
th
, 2010. I was in the mens
department of Bergdorf Goodman in New York City for an event with Esquire. I
brought one of my NFL clients who was extremely into fashion so that I could
introduce him to executives at Kiton, an upscale Italian clothing company that was
hosting the event. While my client was pre-occupied signing autographs and taking
pictures with people, I stealthily snuck off to a remote section across the hall to
speak to a close friend who was also an attorney. The reason for my call was
because just a few hours earlier, the sports blog Deadspin posted a story titled,
Brett Favres Cell Phone Seduction of Jenn Sterger. It included a short video clip
that contained Myspace correspondence, voicemails, and three explicit penis
pictures that were allegedly sent to Jenn by Favre back while they were both
working for the Jets in 2008. Although this was obviously pretty scandalous shit, I
had only received a couple inbound calls looking for comment because Deadspin
was an alternative sports blog and the story hadnt hit mainstream mediayet.
While I was on the phone with my friend discussing the Deadspin
situation, I had another call come in from a 212 number that I didnt recognize. I
answered it and the person on the other line identified himself as Brian McCarthy
from the National Football League.
Did you receive my email? he asked.
No, I havent, I replied. McCarthy informed me that he emailed me
right before he called, so it hadnt come through yet because I had been on the
phone. When I asked him if I could call him back after I read the email, he told me
that there was no need to and just wanted my permission for him to pass along my
number to one of the NFLs investigators. I told him that this was fine. I then clicked
over to my friend who was currently on hold, told him about the exchange with
McCarthy, and that I was going to hang up to read the email. This is what it said:

Its Brian McCarthy at the NFL league office. We are trying to track down Jenn
Sterger. Can you point us in the right direction with her contact info?

That was it. I noticed that on McCarthys email signature his title was Vice
President of Communications. It seemed bizarre that the NFL would have their PR
guy reach out to me. Also, I was amazed at how presumptuous the request was. I
had never met Brian McCarthy before in my life, yet here he was shooting me an
email out of the blue and asking for me to turn over my clients personal
information. Sure Brian, Ill give you Jenns contact info. And while I have you, can I get
Peyton Mannings phone number?
I walked back into the Esquire event to reunite with my client and make our
rounds before we headed out for the evening. As I was walking him to his car that
was taking him back home, I received a call from a 917 number. I answered, and it
was Joe Hummel, the NFL investigator who said hed received my number from
Brian McCarthy. That didnt take long.
Hummel skipped the small talk and dove right in. I want to speak with you
about meeting with Jenn Sterger in reference to our investigation of Brett Favre, he
said sternly.
Id love to help you out, I replied. But Im just finishing an event, so Im a
little jammed up at the moment. Lets talk tomorrow so that I can get a better
understanding of what you need and Ill help you out any way that I can.
Hummel was hesitant to get off the phone. Clearly, he was concerned that I
was blowing him off. Look, you have my info, so just reach out to me tomorrow, I
assured him. Ill return every call and email. And I intended to, barring some
unforeseen circumstances.
The next morning at around 7:00, I went to the local bodega to grab some
coffee and pick up the paper before I went to the gym. When I saw the front page of
the New York Post, I thought to myself, Shit, Im definitely not making it to the gym
today.
There was a huge photo of Jenn on the cover along with the headline that
screamed, BAD SNAP! Favre Accused of Sending Jet Beauty Sex Photos.
I had barely finished reading the article before my phone started exploding
with incoming calls, text messages and emails. Reporters from all over the country
were calling. Producers and bookers from every major television morning show
reached out in hopes of landing an exclusive interview with Jenn. I had people call
claiming to be NFL investigators as well as numerous people who threatened to kill
me. I wanted nothing to do with this, but I knew that the situation wasnt going to go
away anytime soon because this was a sexy story. An iconic NFL quarterback with
an aw-shucks image who had very publicly supported his wife through her battle
with breast cancer, is suddenly splashed across the front page of the tabloids for
allegedly sending pictures of his dick to a Jets employee who was a dead ringer for
his wife. Oy fucking vey. I called Jenn and told her to strap in.
My phone would not stop ringing. I could barely hold a conversation because
call waiting kept going off every thirty seconds. I spoke to Jenns father who
informed me that various media outlets were calling their house looking for
comment. Jenns friends were reaching out to her to let her know that reporters
were calling them too. Then Deadspin posted another report. Apparently, two
massage therapists who worked with the Jets in 2008 were now claiming that they
also received lewd text messages from Favre. This was an absolute shit show and it
was about to get much worse.
Due to the fact that I was inundated with calls, my voicemail box quickly
reached its capacity and I didnt get around to checking the messages until later in
the day. I had missed a call from Joe Hummel. I returned his call and left him a
message, apologizing for my delayed response. He called me back about half an hour
later, and he came after me hard right out of the gate, I NEED TO TALK TO JENN
STERGER!!!! THE COMMISSIONER NEEDS ANSWERS!!! he barked.
Whoa, slow down, I said. You need to understand the landscape here.
Jenns sick, shes in the process of moving out of her apartment, and shes also on the
front page of The New York Post today from this whole thing. Not only that, but her
dad is in town and is currently dealing with watching his daughter go through this.
This is the perfect storm of stuff that she doesnt want to deal with.
But this wasnt what Hummel wanted to hear, and he wasnt accepting it. I
need answers. When can we meet with Jenn Sterger? he asked again forcefully.
Look, you need to understand where Im coming from at the moment. Jenn
can barely stop crying and she doesnt want to talk about this, so I need to respect
that. Shes with her dad who isnt leaving until Tuesday, so I will let her spend time
with her family and I will call you on Tuesday to discuss if/when shell agree to meet
with you, I said.
So I can tell the commissioner that Ill hear from you on Tuesday, he
repeated back to me. I could hear it in his voice that he wasnt convinced and he
definitely wasnt pleased.
Yes, you have my word, I promised. We ended the call and I headed to a
local bar. I needed a drink. Badly. I sat at the bar and ordered a glass of wine and
some food. As I was eating my meal, I pulled up twitter on my phone to keep myself
entertained. As I scrolled through the tweets, I was shocked to come across the
latest post from Pro Football Talk, a blog started by former attorney and now
correspondent Mike Florio that is regarded as the bible in the NFL community. The
headline read, Sterger Will Cooperate with Favre Investigation. The report stated
the following:

NBCs Peter King advanced the ongoing Brett Favre story by pointing out that former
Jets sideline reporter Jenn Sterger will cooperate with the NFLs review/investigation
of allegations that Favre pursued her and sent inappropriate photos via text messages
in 2008, while both Sterger and Favre were employed by the Jets

I know Peter King personally and he is arguably the most connected football writer
in the industry with some of the most credible sources, but I had no idea where he
was getting this information from as it was obviously inaccurate. That being said,
Peters been wrong before and this most likely wouldnt be the last time either, so I
dismissed the report and went back to focusing on my drink which had been refilled
for me. But the peaceful moment would turn out to be very short-lived as my phone
sprung to life and began vibrating noisily on the bar. It was Joe Hummel calling.
I put a coaster on top of my drink to let the bartender know that Id be
coming back and stepped outside to take his call. As soon as I picked up the phone,
he launched into his tirade, YOU PLANTED THIS PETER KING STORY!!!!! I WAS
FINE WITH TUESDAY BEFORE, BUT AFTER YOU PULLED THIS STUNT, ALL BETS
ARE OFF!!! I NEED TO SPEAK TO JENN NOW!!!!!!
He was clearly trying to rattle my cage and I was not going to tolerate it.
Listen, I know how this game is played. If you want to try to apply pressure to me,
then that is the wrong move to make. You need to report back to the commissioner?
Tell him that you can forget about that call on Tuesday. When youre phones not
ringing, its me not calling. I then realized why Hummel couldnt wait until Tuesday.
Favre and the Vikings were coming in two days to play the Jets. The NFL wanted this
story buried as soon as possible so that the Brett Favre penis scandal didnt
overshadow their primetime matchup on Monday. That Peter King report that we
would cooperate with the NFLs investigation put us in an extremely precarious
position. If we met with the league, wed be reopening an old wound that took Jenn
nearly two years to heal, and this would likely be an extremely unpleasant
experience for her. But if we didnt cooperate, her public image could take a hit due
to the fact that she had an opportunity to hold him accountable for his actions, yet
chose not to pursue it. Due to the conversations that I had with Joe Hummel, it was
also very possible that we could meet with the league, and they could choose to do
nothing. This wasnt just your typical football player on a teams 53-man roster
were talking about. This is one of the most iconic quarterbacks in the history of the
sport and someone who is arguably bigger than the game and Goodell. Lets face it, if
there were explicit pictures of Vince Lombardi, do you think the league would every
allow those to see the light of day?
I called Jenn and told her about the exchange that I just had with Joe Hummel.
Clearly, he had no compassion for Jenn and and what she and her family were going
through. When I asked Jenn how she was holding up, she said that she was doing
okay and that her dad was keeping her busy. I put masking tape along the bottom
of all my TVs, she told me. This was, I can still watch sports and not read the ticker
which mentions me every thirty second, she added. She was a smart kid. I told her
that she should try to relax and enjoy the rest of her evening with her father because
tomorrow she was going to meet me for lunch. I was going to copy the phone
backups from her computer and bring them to a former FBI forensics expert, so that
he could decrypt the files for us. This way, we could hopefully see exactly what
happened back in 2008 and what evidence, if any, could show that this was actually
Brett Favre.
The next morning, I turned on ESPN and could not believe what I was
hearing. Chris Mortensen was reporting that the Favre investigation by the NFL was
on the fast track and Goodell was looking to resolve it quickly. Not only that, but
when asked by ESPN at a Monday Night Football production meeting, Favre said
neither he nor his agent had been contacted by the NFL about the matter. So the
league is harassing my client who hasnt worked for them in nearly two years, yet
they havent even reached out to Favre who technically still an employee? They
could force him to cooperate if they wanted to. It was absolutely unbelievable. My
phone started ringing. It was Joe Hummel, the investigator. I let it go to voicemail.
A minute later, I received an email from him. Pls Give Me a Call it said. Enough was
enough. I sent an email to my contact at ESPN with Comment in the subject
heading. This is something that allegedly happened 2 years ago. We dont want a
quick resolution, but the proper resolution. ESPN put it out on the SportsCenter
ticker and it went viral immediately. Some reporters in the media described it as
being a cryptic statement, but it wasnt intended for them. All we cared about was
that Goodell and his investigators got the message. And the message was for them
to back the hell up.
Goodell heard it loud and clear because he changed his tune shortly after,
pumping the brakes when reporters asked about a timetable on the Favre
investigation, that was supposed to be on the fast track. While addressing the
media at an owners meeting in downtown Chicago, he said, "Before we jump to any
conclusions here, let's make sure we understand all the facts." He then added, "I've
often said one of the reasons we implemented a personal conduct policy is to
make sure everyone associated with the NFL - commissioner, players, coaches,
executives - understands their responsibility to conduct themselves in a
responsible fashion. We all must understand that."
Since Im limited on space, Im going to start to wrap thing up here. Lets just
say that a LOT more insanity happened between then and the time we eventually
decided to meet with the NFLs investigators (which ended up taking place at my
apartment). In other words, yes, a group of grown men in suits sat around my
kitchen table and stared at pictures of Brett Favres penis (allegedly). The heads of
NFL security sat through hours of testimony and sifted through countless
documents that were compiled in a three-ring binder with the help from our FBI
forensics expert. Not only was the phone in question registered in Mississippi, it was
associated with T-Mobile, a company that Favre also happened to be a spokesperson
for in 2008. And maybe this evidence can be considered circumstantial, but I have a
hard time believing that a text stating his home address in Morristown is.
Apparently, so did the investigators, as they nearly fell out of their chairs when
they saw this.
So, if the league had so much evidence at their disposal, why did the
investigation take so long and drag on for the duration of the entire season? Thats
a great question. Maybe the answer has something to do with the statute of
limitations for filing a lawsuit in New Jersey. This would have expired at the end of
December 28
th
, 2010, because that date is exactly two years from the last day of the
2008 season when Favre and Sterger were both employed by the Jets. If you recall,
this was the day that Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington led his team to a 24-17
playoff win over the Jets and Favre, the player he was ironically cut to make room
for during the offseason. And when did the league announce their ruling?
Coincidentally, on December 29
th
, 2010. I now realize that all of the investigating
that took place wasnt because they wanted to properly enforce the personal
conduct policy, but to gather as much information as possible so that the league
could avoid liability and minimize the impact of any negative PR that could tarnish
the shield. The NFL ended up fining Favre $50,000 for lack of cooperation and not
being forthcoming during the investigation. In other words, lying to the league and
for obstructing their investigation. Darren Rovell, ESPNs sports business reporter,
did the math and pointed out that during the 2010 season, Brett Favre made
$11,373 per minute of every game. That means he only had to give up 4 minutes
of pay for failing to cooperate with the leagues investigation to enforce the
personal conduct policy. But looking back on it, why should Brett Favre respect the
personal conduct policy when Roger Goodell doesnt? And hes the man who created
it. The leagues personal conduct policy has nothing to do with a players actual
conduct and everything to do with protecting the leagues business interests.

But you know what? Maybe I shouldnt be taking this so personally.

Because in the end, its just business.

And business is currently booming to the tune of roughly $10 billion a year.
As CEO of the NFL, Roger Goodells job is to make money for the league. Its that
simple. You can argue that Roger Goodell is very good at his job because since he
became commissioner in 2006, the value of NFL franchises have increased by 32%,
with an average value of roughly $1.4 billion each. You can also argue that people
are so passionate about football (hence the term fan being short for fanatic), that
almost anyone could serve as CEO and the league would continue to make money.
We are addicted to football and we absolutely fiend for it. As Chris Rock said,
people dont sell drugs, drugs sell themselves. Following that same logic, I would
go as far as saying that probably in the history of crack, never once was there a a
crackhead who said, You know what, this guy selling me crack seems rather
unsavory, so I think Im going to pass this time. The same can be said for Goodell at
the moment. But things can change.
We need to start asking more questions as opposed to just blindly consuming
and deluding ourselves that our individual behavior doesnt have a direct impact on
corporations. Just last week, PepsiCos CEO Indra Nooyi (recently ranked the third
most powerful woman in business by Fortune), issued a strongly worded
statement, which addressed the leagues recent mishandling of domestic violence
issues. She said that such behaviors, are disgusting, absolutely unacceptable, and
completely fly in the face of the values we at PepsiCo believe in. Powerful stuff. So
as a self-described, mother, wife, and passionate football fan, you can assume that
she then pulled Pepsis roughly $100 million a year sponsorship of the NFL, right?
Quite the contrary. She did nothing. Issuing a statement without taking action is
simply media posturing, masquerading as corporate social responsibility for the
sake of influencing public opinion. Actually, I stand corrected. She did do something.
She protected PepsiCos business interests, which is what her job as CEO requires
her to do, considering that PepsiCo owns various brands that have NFL marketing
rights including Gatorade, Pepsi-Cola, Lays Potato Chips and Quaker Oatmeal
among others. This sends a very strong message that being CEO actually trumps
what it means to be a mother, wife, and passionate football fan. That nothing is
more important than protecting your companys business interests, which is the
same exact message that Goodell was sending. I dont know about you, but this
leaves me with an incredibly bad taste in my mouth. And maybe the only way to fix
that is with a tall, ice-cold, refreshing glass of Coca-Cola.
Doing the right thing doesnt always mean doing the profitable thing. In fact,
sometimes its quite the opposite. CVS recently announced that they would stop
selling cigarettes in 7,700 of its stores, losing roughly $2 billion worth of revenue a
year in the process. Before this, shopping at a pharmacy for me was simply based on
convenience in terms of location. Now, Ill go out of my way to shop at CVS and give
them my business over Duane Reade (even if buying just one item results in you
receiving a receipt thats two miles long). But this move by CVS was extremely
newsworthy because it is so rarely done. Its the white buffalo of business decisions
if you will.
We as consumers have more power than we give ourselves credit for, and we
need to strive for positive change. There is an amazing cultural shift taking place in
our society right now. We have more access to information than ever before, which
in turn should lead to us making more educated decisions when it comes to how we
spend our money and who we choose to support as a result. Just recently, an app
called BuyPartisan was released that lets you scan a products barcode and it tells
you how much money the company and its CEO donated to political parties. We
dont necessarily need the assistance of technology when it comes to making these
decisions every day, but we do need to take action. Take music for example. Im not
going to tell you whether or not you should download Chris Browns latest single on
iTunes, but I absolutely believe that you should boycott any organization that
licenses music from Gary Glitter, the convicted pedophile who continues to profit off
the royalties of his jock rock anthem, Rock and Roll Part 2, which is still being
played at sporting events.
I realize that separating the product from the people who sell it to us is
something that we would prefer not to do. Especially when it comes to football and
entertainment in general, which serves as an escape for us from realitys daily grind
where we have to think all the time. Every Sunday, we would rather just check out
mentally, throw on our favorite jersey, and watch the game with our friends over a
few beers and some wings without having to think about things like domestic
violence. And especially not whether the commissioner of our favorite sport was
intentionally negligent in his handling of such issues. In fact, I dont want to think
about Roger Goodell at all. In my opinion, the best thing that Roger Goodell could do
as commissioner is to make sure that no one knows who he even is. As far as the
fans go, we dont need you to lead, just to get out of the way. And this would be
simple enough if it werent for his ego. The only thing more over-inflated than his
$44 million a year salary is his sense of self-importance. At his circus of a press
conference (that had everything but vendors selling cotton candy), Goodell had the
audacity to say that the recent incidents demonstrate that we can use the NFL to
help create change; not only in our league but in society with respect to domestic
violence and sexual assault. First, your reported behavior in the handling of these
incidents obviously speaks to the contrary and second, why do you feel that
anything you work on needs to be far-reaching outside of the league to have an
impact on society? Youre the NFL commissioner, not the police commissioner. Stay
in your lane. If the events of the last few weeks have taught us anything, its that
when it comes to dealing with issues pertaining to domestic violence and sexual
assault, you need to do less, not more. And actually, we would be better off if you
didnt deal with it at all.
Goodell added that the league is going to work hard to live up to the
standards that our fans deserve and that nothing is off the table. When pressed
by members of the media if he would ever consider resigning, Goodell answered
that he wouldnt because, he is focused on doing his job. So, apparently Rogers
definition of nothing differs from most peoples and in fact, some things are indeed
off the table(#FreeSimmons).
Goodell also went on to say that he has the support of the owners. And this is
where the problem lies. Roger Goodell is a problem, not the problem. Thats because
its a systemic problem. Goodell represents the interest of the owners and the
interest of the owners is dictated by our spending habits; which currently boils
down to whatever we let them get away with. And saying that its a hell of a lot
would be the Super Bowl of understatements. Its hard to justify using taxpayer
money to fund the construction of new stadiums while simultaneously forcing those
same taxpayers to buy insanely over-priced personal seat licenses (which Goodell
shills as being good investments) to attend games once said stadium is built. How
about season ticket packages which include exhibition games that cost the same as
tickets to regular season ones, even though you almost always are paying to see the
third string quarterback and players who are fighting for a spot on the roster? And
dont even get me started on the burn them and turn them approach to how the
league treats their players. You can spend a lifetime reading the never-ending
barrage of lawsuits being brought by former players alleging the leagues concealing
of the effects of football-related head trauma. Goodell says that he takes the health
of the players very seriously, as he should. But in the next breath he proposes
extending the season to 18 games, which clearly indicates otherwise. He is a third
degree black belt when it comes to talking out of both sides of his mouth. But like we
addressed earlier, Roger Goodell isnt the problem. We created Goodell. Hes our
Frankenstein and we need to accept responsibility for that. That being said, he is
still a problem. Not just for the integrity of the game (as the debacle with the
replacement officials clearly showed when the phrase intertouchdownception was
coined), but now possibly for the owners as well. His association with the league
makes people contemplate how they view the game and more importantly, the
business of football. And this is something that the owners dont want us to think
about. The $44 million a year salary does apparently have its slight drawbacks,
because while people are arguing about whether or not Goodell should be forced to
resign, this means that the commissioner has to take the heat from the spotlight
which otherwise would be shining on the owners. This is the conversation that the
league doesnt want us to be having. But if the only way for us to change things for
the better is to hold ourselves accountable for the decisions that we make, then Im
not sure that this is a conversation that we want to be having either.
Its a 24 hour news cycle, and Im sure that another explosive story will come
along in the near future that will distract us from the situation thats currently
taking place in the NFL. And dont worry, Roger, as Andy Warhol once said, Dont
pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches.