The NFL commissioner struck again. Or at least that is the way some people are taking it after Roger Goodell levied suspensions for 4 players involved in the New Orleans Saints bounty program.
Truth is, well, I’ll let Col. Jessup share with you:
Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to.
That of course, was Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men.”
But it rings true for Goodell’s role in the NFL. We need someone smart, firm, and tough. We may not like him all the time, or at all, but he is necessary to be like this for his job. And I think he does a great job.
Of course I believe the NFL either supported or allowed for a culture of warriors who said and did things that crossed the line. Were bounties are part of the NFL’s history? Does a bear poop in the woods?
The NFL is being forced to change. There are more eyes and ears and lawyers everywhere. The league is being attacked by media and sued by former players. The violent game is doing everything it can publicly, and with the rules, to become less violent.
No precedent for the Saints suspensions; who cares? There is now. Roger Goodell is judge, jury, and executioner. And as much the players or fans may complain, it was agreed to and written in the collective bargaining agreement that that is how it would be. And deep down, everyone knows they needed someone like Goodell to fill that role, and more importantly, the parties involved in drawing up the CBA were aware they had someone like Goodell to do it. Smart, quick on his feet, unafraid of criticism and completely unabashed about operating in a manner that would do everything to protect the seal of the NFL.
The league was battling public image issues with player arrests before he took over. Those arrest numbers have dropped every year since his arrival. People complain about suspensions and lengths of the those punishments. He doesn’t care. He has a bigger plan than to worry about a criminal or even an accused troublemaker who is cleared and whether or not they are treated fairly. Goodell knew fans don’t differentiate between charged and convicted. They think of both as the same, and neither is good for the image of the NFL.
His goal was to make it so all members of the league would be solid citizens. Just do the right thing, and there would be no punishment phase. It is working.
Roger Goodell has made some enemies, but deep down we all should appreciate him doing the tough job that the league needed to be done even if it wasn’t always perfect, it was planned and well thought out.