It seems the more money professional sports leagues generate, the more problems are created between players and team owners. Labor relations between the two appear to be at an all-time low, while distrust is at an all-time high. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is the latest sports league figurehead to have arrows slung his way by a high profile disgruntled player.
Goodell has come under fire for his heavy-handed and Draconian methods which are obviously meant to beat down the players and tell them who is boss. Using every ounce of the political blood he inherited from his father Charles Goodell (US Representative and NY Senator), the commish has used nonsense talk of kickoff rules and playoff expansion to deflect attention away from his alleged botched handling of the New Orleans Saints bounty-gate affair.
Several days ago, Saints QB Drew Brees stated that the commissioner’s office has “very little to no credibility.” I wonder why Brees took so long to figure this out, since fans have known this for quite some time?
Brees was reacting to Goodell’s investigation of the Saints bounty scandal, which some believe was a witch-hunt and a scapegoating exercise by the NFL’s head honcho. Goodell is being accused of framing his investigation to conclude the players were guilty without credible evidence. For this reason, Saints LB Jonathan Vilma is proceeding with a defamation of character lawsuit against Goodell and the NFL.
Of course, Brees’ comments are nowhere near as inflammatory as Pittsburgh Steelers LB James Harrison, who stated last season he would not even bother to relieve his bladder on Goodell if he encountered him engulfed in flames. Harrison has been fined repeatedly for illegal hits by a league which has obviously continued its pattern of blaming players for excessive violence and injury.
Another reason why Goodell is working overtime to demonize the players is the class action lawsuit filed in June 2012, consolidating 81 lawsuits by former NFL players and families, alleging the league hid the connection between concussions/head trauma and permanent brain damage. In addition to the NFL, Helmet manufacturer Riddell Inc. has also been named as a co-defendant in the lawsuit.
Once again, Goodell is attempting to distract the public from tragic events, such as the recent suicides of retired NFL players Junior Seau, Dave Duerson and Ray Easterling. By continuing to pass the buck, the NFL is hoping the public and the courts do not question if the league is doing enough to protect players and provide treatment for ex-players.
Goodell and the league will need to do a lot more than reach into their bag of political tricks to shield themselves from the alleged negligence, potential liability and damages. The NFL has a serious problem which will require more than a few handshakes and some distracting doubletalk to resolve.