The NFL owners face a tough decision re: Roger Goodell. In my blog last week “Roger Goodell Fails Again” I left open the question “Why are the NFL owners allowing him [Goodell] to run amok and remain in office?” The question has a very dramatic spotlight tonight as the NFL season opens in Foxboro, Massachusetts and the NFL commissioner will not be in attendance for the first time in ten years. Mr. Goodell has stated he does not want to be a distraction and thus will not attend the game. That may be BUT it is his job to be there, and therefore he will not be performing his job! It is just another item in a long list of reasons the NFL owners should consider firing Mr. Goodell.
Lets examine the reasons the NFL owners should seriously contemplate dismissing Goodell:
1. Competency – two judges [Doty and Berman} have questioned his knowledge and understanding of the CBA [Collective Bargaining Agreement] with the NFLPA [National Football League Players Association]. The public rebukes by the two judges are quite damning and bring into question Goodell’s ability to perform the duties of commissioner. He is 0 for 5 on appeals.
2. Veracity – Mr. Goodell’s truthfulness is now in question based upon an answer he provided on the “Mike & Mike Show” on ESPN this week. When asked about the possibility of reinstating Messrs. McNally and Jastremski, the two employees believed to have abetted Tom Brady in deflating footballs Mr. Goodell alleged the NFL had nothing to do with the suspension of the two men. That response has been challenged by Adam Schefter a reporter for ESPN who published a story stating the NFL asked the Patriots to suspend the two men. Mr. Schefter today publicly refuted Goodell’s response. In addition in the ruling made by Judge Berman he includes the following in his written decision referencing a letter from NFL executive Troy Vincent to Patriots owner Robert Kraft: “2. neither [McNally or Jastremski] may be reinstated without my prior approval.” The Patriots may not reinstate either man without written approval from the NFL. In Mr. Goodell’s defense his response to the interview on “Mike & Mike” might be an example of point 1- Competency.
3. One of the NFL owners has stated that several owners were upset at Goodell’s handling of Spygate and the recent Deflategate was the league’s chance at a “makeup” for Spygate. Per the NFL owner it was “time for a makeup call”. If that is true then Goodell is playing a dangerous political game by siding with some owners over others.In my book “Theory You” I include a chapter titled “Who’s Team Are You On” which warns about the dangers of playing politics as Goodell may be doing.
4. One of the most powerful owners has gone on record stating: “I was wrong to put my faith in the league”. The owner is Robert Kraft who is one of three members of the compensation committee. Other owners have commented about reducing his power to discipline the players. Clearly some owners are not pleased with his performance and some are seeking change.
5. The media is now portraying Goodell as an incompetent executive based on his actions of the past year. ESPN, a near house organ for the NFL referred to Goodell as having “bumbling news conferences”. This is not the image one wants for a major sports executive and no sports league wants a poor relationship with the media. The media has done a 180 on Goodell since the ruling by Judge Berman.
5. Mike Martz, the former coach of the St. Louis Rams recently stated Goodell asked him to write a letter stating the NFL acted professionally in the Spygate matter. Martz said Goodell asked him to write a letter because “The league doesn’t need this…a few lines exonerating us and saying we did due diligence”. This implies Goodell knew he failed to perform well in the Spygate matter and calls into question both his competency and veracity.
The NFL spent the weeks leading up to the last Super Bowl with Deflategate as the primary topic. The entire off season was spent with Deflategate as the primary topic. The primary topic prior to tonight’s first NFL game – Deflategate, and now Spygate as well. I expect it will be the major story through the season. Goodell has created a black cloud over the Super Bowl and the upcoming season. I cannot imagine a single owner who want this issue to be the prominent issue going into the 2015 – 2016 season. Goodell’s next step? He will prolong the story by appealing the decision by Judge Berman.
Is this the image the owners want for the NFL?
Is this the image the owners want for their commissioner?
Is this the commissioner they want handling the return of the NFL to Los Angeles?
Is this the commissioner they want leading the NFL to global growth?
If the man’s competency, veracity, PR skills, and management skills are all in question why would they retain him and his reported $40 million contract? Because to replace Goodell they would have to admit they made a mistake in hiring him, and as we have seen numerous times in business jobs are kept because the decision makers don’t want to admit they made an error.
The onus is now on the owners. It’s not a question of “If” rather it’s a question of “When?”
I’ve written about the damage caused by chasing a bad decision. How long before the NFL owners admit they made a bad decision? NFL owners face a tough decision? Not really!