SBD/December 27, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Here, There & Everywhere: Roger Goodell Reflects On Busy, Controversial Year In NFL

Goodell said that he was disappointed the league has yet to institute HGH testing
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's year "began with a rich contract extension in January," but in the 11 months since then, he has "been more lightning rod than object of praise," according to Judy Battista of the N.Y. TIMES. Despite challenges this year, Goodell "retains the strong support of the league's owners." He said, "In the NFL there are always challenges. I think that's part of our success." Goodell said that he was "pleased with some steps that have been taken in regard to player safety." He "counted as a disappointment the failure to reach a final agreement with the players' union on human growth hormone testing." Another regret of his is that the referee lockout "could not end before replacement officials were needed for regular-season games, although he is happy that a long-term agreement was eventually reached." Goodell "framed the Saints' bounty case as a matter of player safety." He said, "What you're doing is you're enforcing the rules. ... We didn't look for this. But when it occurs, you've got to deal with it and make sure there is no misunderstanding that everybody is accountable." Regarding former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue's decision to overturn the suspensions of the players involved in the bounty scandal, Goodell added, "All of us have a role to make sure the game is safer. I was disappointed he could find conduct detrimental and there is no discipline, that he could excuse that type of accountability as a coach's responsibility. I don't share that perspective. This isn't a new policy. The bounty rule has been in place for decades. It's a core part of our rules."

LOOKING AHEAD: Battista noted the league and the NFLPA "appear at odds on many policy initiatives." However, Goodell said the relationship between the NFL management and the union was "typical." HGH and the collusion case involving the Redskins and Cowboys "will almost certainly be big issues in 2013." Additionally, player safety "continues to be the overarching theme of his tenure." Giants President & CEO John Mara said that when Goodell talks to owners, he "repeatedly emphasizes preserving the integrity of the game and improving player safety." But Goodell also has "talked about the need to avoid complacency." Goodell said, "That is part of leadership. What you have to do is listen and make the right decisions. Long-term, that is what is going to make the NFL successful. If you want to be a cheerleader, go be a cheerleader. If you want to be a commissioner, then go make the decisions" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/23).

MAKING THINGS CLEAR: SI.com's Peter King wrote, "If you still think Tagliabue was somehow 'protecting' Goodell with his ruling, you wouldn't think that from talking to those close to Goodell -- or, now with Battista's story, by hearing from Goodell himself. It's clear the mentee, Goodell, is angry with the decision of his mentor, Tagliabue" (SI.com, 12/24).
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