It was announced Tuesday afternoon that Roger Goodell is the new NFL commissioner, succeeding the retiring Paul Tagliabue. Actually, I happen to know a little bit about Roger. He’s a white, middle-aged, clean-cut executive type who looks like every other member of the league’s hierarchy. He is distinguished by his devotion to the status quo. He likes sports and business and feels the two have a bright future together. Like Tagliabue, he speaks publicly about once a year. He believes in individuality, as long as it conforms to strict league guidelines. He wears a suit and tie, even when he goes to bed.
Yes, the league owners really rolled the dice on this cat. Goodell was a “think inside the box inside another box” decision, arrived at after about five minutes of discussion, four of which were probably spent trying to wake up Al Davis. There was more debate before Kim Jong-il replaced his father Kim Il-sung.
I’m not suggesting the NFL necessarily needs a bold new approach. After all, the league is thriving. It generates enough money per year to buy the NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball and turn them into halftime shows.
Under Tagliabue’s stewardship, the NFL has enjoyed a tremendous growth spurt, so it’s only natural to promote one of his flunkies to assure a seamless transition. The move will be official when Tagliabue passes on his wingtips and glasses to Goodell in a private ceremony.
But those of us who are dreamers, idealists, intellectual daredevils, the kind of people who believe Charles Barkley’s ambitions shouldn’t stop at the Alabama statehouse, can’t help but wonder how much the NFL might benefit if it had looked beyond the usual suspects when choosing a new commissioner.
With that in mind, here are some suggestions for candidates who would have been more exciting choices and who would have brought some much-needed vibrancy to this very public leadership post. As far as I know, few if any of the following were interviewed, or even considered, which should illustrate that, no matter how wildly successful an enterprise is, there’s always room for improvement:
CONDOLEEZA RICE: Sure, she’s in the midst of trying to quell the violence in the Middle East and get Hezbollah and Israel to stop destroying each other. But is she ready to preside over NFL meetings? Does she have what it takes to haggle with network executives over the next TV contract? I say give her a helmet and a flak jacket and let’s give it a shot.
FLOYD LANDIS: One of the essential tasks of an NFL commissioner is, when a problem arises, deny it exists. Too many players getting arrested for bar fights, domestic abuse or drunk driving? Claim everything is fine. Who is a better at denial than Floyd? And let’s face it, he already has more than enough testosterone for the job.
MEL GIBSON: OK, I’ll admit, the drunken anti-Semitic rant may work against him. But the best thing for Mel right now is to completely drop out of sight and not allow himself to be seen in public. In that regard, the perfect candidate.
ProFootballTalk: Patriots QB Tom Brady addressed Wes Welker’s decision to head West to Denver. Brady says he isn’t surprised by anything after being in the league for so long and hopes that Welker has a great season with the Broncos.
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