In the NFL, there are several attributes that will land you – and keep you – a job. Speed, strength, focus – these are all important, but none as important as consistency. If you can do your job without fail every day, you will be successful in the NFL, and in most phases of life. You can be a star, and do some aspects of the game well, but if you can’t do it consistently, if you can’t present the same product every week, you lose your job fast.
Roger Goodell never got this memo.
The NFL Commissioner has never been able to display a product that is 100% consistent. For most of his tenure, but especially over the past year, he has been showing two faces. Let us examine both of these faces in detail, how each would react to last night’s debacle, and how Goodell as a man should react.
Roger Goodell has watched over the NFL with the firm, pained demeanor of a father who has his son bent over his knee. His arm is raised in strength and conviction, but his face is troubled. As he hurts his son, as he punishes him, he asserts that he is doing this because he has to make an example of him, because of what the son has done to the family name. Obviously the son is Jonathan Vilma, James Harrison, the NFLPA at large. The family name is “The Shield,” which is most important to the father. It is what he points to with every move. “We’re trying to make the league safer.” “We don’t want a black mark upon the shield.” Roger Goodell does what he has to do because he is protecting the integrity of the business he is in charge of. When he fines Harrison, it is to make the game safer. When he suspends Vilma, it is to show that he cares about his game’s reputation. He may be unpopular, his son may scream that he hates him, but the father is doing what he can to make sure the family is strong. This is, in my opinion, the way a commissioner should be. Even as he threw the books at my favorite football team, he did it to protect the image of the league, and it’s understandable. He did it for the right reasons. He did it out of love for his family.
How The Father Reacts to Last Night
The Father, as stated, cares about the family above all else. With the Twitter firestorm and the general backlash of last night, the father has no choice but to do something. He can’t sit idly by as his family is tarnished by these replacement officials, who have now decided the outcomes of the last two football games in the league. He will contact the NFL Referee Association, find the closest available empty room, and negotiate a settlement to get the referees back on the field as soon as Thursday. He may even consider overturning the result of the game, just to show that he cares about the integrity of his league. Even if he cannot actually change the result, he can state for the record that the call was wrong and he is embarrassed by it as head of the NFL. He will issue a statement saying that everyone is responsible, including himself and the referee union, for this mess, and that he will work to rectify it immediately. The father recognizes that dark times may happen, and the family may look bad, but the only way to overcome it is to acknowledge the mistakes he made, do what he can to make up for those mistakes, and take the steps to make sure those mistakes don’t happen again.
Roger Goodell has watched over the NFL as an anxious man in a locked room full of gold and money. He watches the door nervously, and threatens to attack anyone who comes into his room to take what is his. He is both eager to make more money and terrified to lose any money – so much that he will refuse to budge in negotiations, showing impeccable resolve. Last summer, Goodell and the owners held out as long as possible to squeeze every penny they could from the players, and this year they seem to be doing the same thing with the referees. In situations like this, obviously both sides get greedy, and a deal must be struck that is fair. However, Goodell’s insistence to keep the replacement referees on the field despite early complaints went against his father countenance. Goodell was a large proponent of an 18 game season, which goes against his safety concerns. But that, again, was a different Goodell. This Goodell is the Scrooge, who wants to keep enough money to fill as many swimming pools as possible. This Goodell isn’t concerned with protecting the image of the shield; he is only concerned with making it a bigger shield. Perhaps then it can deflect all of the criticism he has sustained. Because that is what is most contradictory about this face: Goodell as the money-hungry commissioner does more damage to the shield than any late hit could ever do.
How The Scrooge Reacts to Last Night
We don’t have to speculate for this one; we’ve seen how he reacted. He supported the decision on the field, which at this point is like supporting the fact that Dewey beat Truman (political humor!). He has not shown any remorse for the decision, and he will not back down in the case with the referee association. Despite the fact that last night was a travesty, a true miscarriage of justice in the world of football, Goodell still wants to make sure he gets everything he can from the situation. He still thinks he can fill those swimming pools with a few more weeks of resolve and bad football.
What Goodell Should Do
Roger Goodell made a mistake today, but it is one that he couldn’t avoid making. He has not represented himself as the same person in several years; he is either the father who wants to protect his family, or the ruthless moneybags who only cares about advancing himself and his fatcat friends. And because he cannot choose between the two, he cannot be either effectively. To be a commissioner of the most popular sport in America, you have to be able to make tough decisions, and you have to be able to make them with conviction and consistency. Until Roger Goodell can do this for us, he isn’t the commissioner we deserve. And if this event, which some are calling the worst case of officiating we have ever seen, doesn’t spark some kind of change, then we likely never will under Goodell’s tenure.
What Goodell could have done as the Father was find the quickest way out of this situation. What he actually did as the Scrooge was dig his heels in deeper in the face of ubiquitous criticism, refusing to yield at the time where he absolutely needs to. What Goodell should do, as a man and as the head of an immensely successful organization, is to get out of the way and let someone else steer this ship. It’s time the family had a new father. Because we can’t look to the leader of the NFL with every new issue and wonder which face is going to be staring back at us.