Pittsburgh fan-favorite Commissioner Roger Goodell just got a little richer and a little more job security yesterday thanks to an extension to his current contract through the end of the 2018 season. Oh joy. A committee consisting of Falcons owner Arthur Blank, Tom Benson of New Orleans, Pat Bowlen of Denver, Jerry Richardson of Carolina, Steve Ross of Miami, and Robert Kraft of New England (shocker) voted to keep their favorite puppet in office for at least 6 more years. What does this mean for Steeler Nation? I think we already know the answer to that question, but I haven’t done a Goodell-bashing post in a while so let’s go through it again, shall we?
So how does Rogeez’s extension affect Steeler Nation? It will give us endless amounts of the same frustrations we have experienced the past couple of years. Goodell will continue to truck along on his quest to turn the NFL into a flag football league with more games in Europe, more games on his NFL network, and more forcing the fans to bend over and take it. Unfortunately, for most of us, we are hooked on the NFL like the Real Housewives of whatever are hooked on plastic surgery. We can bitch and moan all we want about how Goodell is ruining the league with the BS rules but it’s not like there’s a threat we’d actually stop watching.
Goodell’s biggest fans, naturally, are the owners that keep him in his cushy job. They can’t get enough of the billions of dollars that he makes for them so much so in fact, that they almost put the whole thing to a stop last summer in their attempt to get more billions. There’s no reason to rehash the lockout drama again, but in reading the articles detailing Goodell’s extension you would think that he single handedly drafted the labor agreement and brought about the labor peace all on his own while solving a rubix cube at the same time. Naturally, most of the websites hosting articles about his extension are run by the networks that just extended their contracts to televise NFL games over the past year as well. They need to be nice to Goodell or he’ll move all the games to his own network and shut them out completely. So Goodell is loved and adored by the NFL owners and the executives at the major networks while at the same time I can’t imagine a single NFL fan that has an ounce of respect or even good feelings towards the NFL’s fearless leader.
The worst thing about Goodell to me is that he constantly reminds me as a fan that I don’t count. While the league is supported by the fans who buy season tickets, pay out their nose for single game tickets, purchase jerseys and novelty items, buy satellite TV packages to watch more games, and generally consume everything NFL-related like it’s an all-you-can-eat buffet. Goodell doesn’t give a rip about what we want whether it’s the hard-hitting plays we love, the chance as a regular fan to attend the Super Bowl without selling a kidney to pay for it, or not having a home game sent to England. We’ll still watch even if we get the short end of the stick every single time. We’re not in it for us or him for that matter, we’re in it to watch games like Super Bowl XLIII and see James Harrison return an interception 100 yards for a touchdown and Santonio tip his toes in the endzone while catching the prettiest pass we’ve ever seen, or even the overtime thriller in San Francisco last Sunday night. What the fans can count on with 6 more years of Goodell is there will be more games in Europe, more games on the NFL network, more things moved to “prime time” on TV, and more tweaking of the rules in the name of “player safety”. And there’s nothing we can do about it.
Last August, as the new CBA was sweeping through the league in the attempt to get the players back on the field the Steelers decided as a team to vote against it, mostly a symbolic decision as there was no way the Steelers roster was going to overpower the 1,900 other players that voted for the new CBA. The reasons the Steelers provided for why they voted against it centered largely on Goodell and his unilateral power he holds over the players in terms of discipline. The Steelers felt as if Goodell continuing to hold supreme power over the players in terms of discipline for fines and off-field incidents would not be in the best interest of the players. At this point, the fine and appeals system has been slightly adjusted to a panel reviewing appeals rather than just Goodell hearing them himself but Goodell still holds the ultimate ruling in regards to “personal conduct” discipline.
The biggest gripe Steeler fans in specific have with Goodell is the disparity on how fines and suspensions are handed out for so called “illegal hits”. James Harrison was the first player suspended under the revamped policy for “illegal hits” for one game for his hit on Cleveland’s Colt McCoy. Harrison is considered a repeat offender because of the number of fines he drew the previous season. With Rogeez remaining in power, Harrison must stay on his toes because he clearly isn’t getting the target off of his back anytime soon. There seems to be a never ending supply of “James Harrison was fined for ______” jokes already anyway. Needless to say, Goodell isn’t on anyone in Steeler Nation’s Christmas card list and won’t be anytime soon.
There’s no reason to think that Goodell will be gone anytime soon or that somehow miraculously the way he applies his new rules will be even and make sense to fans. He makes the owners way too much money for anyone to force him to change his ways. We’ll continue to see an offense-driven league with higher penalties for playing defense, higher ticket and jersey prices, and less and less fan-centric moves by the NFL. So congrats to Goodell, although the financial terms of his extension were not released (shocking), I’m about as happy to see him get a contract extension as I am that the Patriots have another shot at winning a Super Bowl.
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