Killing Me Softly

     They say every man has his price. Roger Goodell’s is $34 million a year to be a heel for 32 narcissistic billionaires.
     I’ve been a sportswriter since I was in high school 22 years ago. But I’ve just about had it with the National Football League.
     NFL Commissioner Goodell was paid $34.1 million in 2014, though the league was rocked by scandals. The New York Times figured out Goodell’s $667,000 weekly paycheck from the National Football League’s annual tax filings. Goodell’s measly $3.5 million salary was fattened by a $26.5 million bonus, $3.7 million in retirement benefits and $350,000 in other benefits.
     The monster bonus was calculated, in part, on new business deals Goodell brought to the league, including broadcast contracts.
     The commissioner certainly knows his true audience. The owners – not the NFL – pay Goodell.
     Forget the lip service about caring for the fans, Goodell is all about lining the NFL owners’ pockets. Billionaires love cash and Goodell had supplied plenty of it, with record broadcast deals and an ambitious goal of $25 billion in annual revenue by 2027.
     And when it comes to bringing in the money, Goodell’s integrity ranks right up there with El Chapo’s.
     Goodell is fond of saying his duty is protecting the “NFL Shield,” when it comes to player discipline. But his actions have shown that’s merely code for appeasing sponsors.
     Despite Goodell’s hefty payday, the NFL has become synonymous with domestic violence, and Goodell’s inadequate response embarrassed the league.
     In February 2014, Baltimore running back Ray Rice punched his girlfriend in the face, knocking her unconscious, in the elevator of an Atlantic City casino.
     Despite his access to a security video of the entire incident, Goodell initially suspended Rice for just two games. It wasn’t until the video was released to the public that the league made the suspension indefinite. Rice hasn’t played since.
     But that was just the start of the league’s off-field issues.
     In May 2014, Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy was charged with physically assaulting his girlfriend and throwing her on a futon covered with assault rifles.
     In September 2014, Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson was indicted on child-abuse charges in Texas.
     Both players are back on the field after suspensions.
     These incidents drew so much scorn from the public and women’s rights groups that there were calls on Congress to revoke the NFL’s antitrust exemption.
     The NFL’s billionaire boys club just laughed off those threats. Politicians like cash too.
     Domestic violence is just one of many issues arising during Goodell’s “leadership.”
     Hundreds of retired players have sued the NFL for its shameless inaction on concussions and traumatic brain injuries. The league has been through Spygate, Deflategate and the fiasco surrounding the Rams move to Los Angeles, which in a clear conflict of interest was orchestrated by Goodell.
     Then there are on-field issues such as the ambiguity surrounding what is a catch and the inconsistency in officiating, which has helped undermine the quality of play.
     None of that seems to matter to the NFL. Television drives the machine and those contracts have reached record levels under Goodell.
     Super Bowl 50 was the third-most watched event in television history. The average cost of a 30-second commercial during the game was $4 million.
     The NFL brought in an estimated $13 billion in revenue last season, largely driven by television revenue, unparalleled in the history of sports.
     With teams averaging $2 billion in worth, the NFL owners basically print money and the league has set itself as too big to fail. It doesn’t matter that Goodell has embarrassed the league with numerous player discipline blunders and has shown himself to be a lying jackwagon, he keeps the revenues coming.
     Last March, Mark Cuban, the owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, predicted that the NFL would implode in 10 years due to the massive greed of Goodell and the owners.
     “I’m just telling you: Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. And they’re getting hoggy,” Cuban said.
     But the pigs keep getting fatter and the butcher is nowhere around.

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