By Adam Zaki
Published: November 8th, 2017
With NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s contract situation in flux, the league has a golden opportunity to remove the center of the NFL’s negativity over the past few seasons. By being the most successful commissioner of all time in terms of revenue and marketability for any American sport, Goodell’s personality and disastrous public relations are justifiable reasons to remove him from the $13 billion organization he has been given credit for creating.
Goodell has also been accredited with facilitating a league in which he and the owners control all facets of the game. The league has handed out unprecedented penalties in Goodell’s tenure, and he has fought to be the representation of power in the league. With an iron fist, Goodell has created a culture in which the owners and NFL front office are invincible.
Despite the existence of the NFL Players’ Organization (NFLPA), there is a clear loss of balance of power. National anthem protests, on-field fights, and penalty-heavy games are superficial when looking at the league’s development of this power imbalance. This imbalance may be also be caused by the players’ union failing to compete with the league, but, with their sights solely focused on increasing revenue, Goodell and the owners as a whole have seemingly lost any ability to resonate politically, culturally, and socially with their most valued employees—the players.
For the first time in Goodell’s reign, the players and coaches have started to push back against the league publicly.
With a seemingly insurmountable revenue stream that will forever increase if public relations issues aren’t solved, the NFL will continue to grow financially no matter who is at the helm. Goodell may have started the process for the NFL’s expansion in worldwide popularity, but his removal from the process will allow the league to overcome the clash between themselves and everyone they govern.
Having a commissioner that is hated by the players and fans has been common among the big four American sports, as it provides a representation of the owners’ power and intimidation over their employees. With their hiring of Adam Silver as NBA Commissioner in 2014, the NBA owners made a seemingly unprecedented move to hire a likeable and progressive individual to run the league.
As a result of Silver’s arrival, the NBA has skyrocketed in popularity around the world and has accomplished a feat only done by the NFL: having success in small markets by creating opportunities for these teams to compete financially with teams in larger markets. With many factors influencing this movement, a promotion of individual players across a wide variety of markets has allowed the NBA to promote its franchises outside of their respective borders. This requires a strong relationship between owners, the commissioner and the players’ union to create this type of atmosphere.
The NBA an opportunity to begin the process of competing with the NFL by enhancing fan experiences, increasing player salaries through different opportunities, and ultimately looking towards progressing its sport domestically and internationally. Since Silver’s hiring, the NBA has produced half the annual revenue the NFL has in that span with approximately $5.5 billion in 2016, according to Statista.
If NFL owners want to continue their domination in popularity and revenue, they must follow the NBA by hiring a progressive and likeable individual to represent them. By doing this, they can eliminate the blooming social pressures that have resulted in the multiple controversies in the media. These controversies have resulted in bad press for the league and boycotts by prominent sports figures.
Former Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers play-by-play announcer Vin Scully was quoted at an event he held in California on Saturday, saying he’ll never watch another NFL game because of the league’s national anthem protests.
With reports of meetings between players and owners about the national anthem kneeling going over relatively smoothly in late September, similar meetings have taken place over the span of October. It appears that the sides have come to an agreement that a rule to enforce players to stand for the anthem isn’t the answer to the root problems of the protests.
If the owners have the league’s integrity in mind, they will strongly consider seeking a new commissioner while they have the opportunity to do so. Locking Goodell in for another decade will impede the process of developing a notion that the NFL is the most lucrative and popular platform for advertisers, and also keeps in mind the interests of the players, fans, and staff.