SBD/May 2, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Lockout Watch, Day 52: Goodell Accepts Fans' Frustration With Him

Goodell says he understands why he was booed during first round of NFL Draft
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was "hit with a wave of boos" when he took the stage Thursday at the NFL Draft, and Friday Goodell said that he "understands the fans' feelings," according to Greg Logan of NEWSDAY. Goodell, during a conference call with Jets season-ticket holders, said, "I hear it directly from them. They want football. I want football. That was a clear indication of me not being able to solve that (labor situation). That's my responsibility, and I accept it" (NEWSDAY, 4/30). In Charlotte, Scott Fowler wrote the "utter venom" directed at Goodell "by fans before Thursday's first round really surprised me." Fowler: "I know it sounded loud on TV, but it was nearly deafening inside Radio City Music Hall" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/30). In Chicago, Vaughn McClure noted Goodell was "cheered by the fans when introduced" at the Bears Expo at Soldier Field on Saturday (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/1).

FACING THE MUSIC: CBSSPORTS.com's Mike Freeman noted Goodell was "greeted by some raw anger" at the Draft. But then "something strange happened." Goodell signed autographs and "took picture after picture." Fan anger "subsided and the same people who were expressing their rage began to whip out pens, paper and hats for Goodell to sign." Freeman: "Of course part of this is for public-relations purposes. The league never has missed an opportunity for that, but Goodell still deserves credit for going into the lion's den. … It took some guts for Goodell to make that trek with so many fans infuriated by the lockout. Infuriated, specifically, with him." Goodell is the "spokesman for the owners." He has "attempted to sway fan sentiment toward his side and, frankly, that mission has failed." But Freeman wrote, "In moments like the one here at Radio City he has the ability to win fans over" (CBSSPORTS.com, 4/30). In DC, Sally Jenkins wrote, "You had to respect Goodell's aplomb and good nature in dealing with the social awkwardness, as well as the jeering displeasure of frustrated fans." The commissioner "clearly understood the power of the moment for young men who worked their whole lives to be chosen in the first round, and he translated it with exuberant, rib-cracking embraces, throwing out his arms to induct them into the brotherhood." Jenkins: "It was obviously the nicest part of his job, and he did it with deep feeling" (WASHINGTON POST, 4/30).
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