SBD/October 1, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Roger Goodell Facing Strong Tests To Legacy Following Lockouts Of Players, Refs

Goodell made deals with the NFLPA through '21 and the NFLRA through the '19 season
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been “superb" since taking over the position from Paul Tagliabue in ’06, but at a time when the league has “never been more popular, its commissioner never has been more unpopular,” according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The NFLPA “never has had a more strained relationship with the NFL than it does now.” Goodell must “fend off lawsuits from current players on collusion and former players on concussions in what are the two biggest issues the league faces today.” However, Goodell “already has won” regarding several long-term issues. While the relationships “were souring, Goodell helped secure labor peace with the NFLPA through the 2021 NFL Draft and labor peace with the officials thru the 2019 season.” He also helped secure the “most lucrative TV contracts in sports history" that run through '22. With the collusion and concussion lawsuits pending, “legal and public perception challenges await.” Schefter: “It’s ironic -- for all the peace and prosperity he has procured, the commissioner with a background in PR now has a problem with it.” ESPN’s Tom Jackson said Goodell was the “best commissioner in any sport” and “no one has done for any sport more than what Roger Goodell has done for the NFL.” ESPN’s Cris Carter said of the refs, “This too will go away. It is about the product on the field and the product is easy to sell” (“Sunday NFL Countdown,” ESPN, 9/30).

HITTING A ROUGH PATCH: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Daniel Kaplan noted Goodell's reputation "could pay a price" for the ref situation. One former NFLer said, "I don't think anyone thinks of the commissioner as the custodian of the game." Few industry veterans "are will to publicly criticize, or even question, Goodell." He runs the "unquestioned powerhouse league of U.S. sports," but there is "no doubt that Goodell's standing took a hit last week, continuing a rough patch for the commissioner" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 10/1 issue). In N.Y., Gary Myers wrote it is “too early to determine" what Goodell’s “legacy will be -- SpyGate, BountyGate, the players lockout, the officials lockout, all the player suspensions he’s handed down." Goodell has "time to remove the stain and stink created by the ill-conceived plan to let replacement officials run the games the first three weeks of the season until there was finally a new labor deal last week.” The ref lockout was “the low point of Goodell’s tenure and it prompted a tremendous backlash from coaches, players and fans.” He now “has to win back the fans’ trust.” Goodell is a “combination of his predecessors, Pete Rozelle and Paul Tagliabue.” He has “Rozelle’s personality and sense of public relations, but can be brutally blunt like Tagliabue without the arrogance” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/30).
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