The League

Jim McCormick
Blitz Magazine Publisher

Jim McCormick

The editor and publisher of Blitz Magazine

Goodell Protects the Brand


Despite the looming uncapped year, the downtrodden economy and persisting player conduct concerns; the NFL still sleeps well at night. And there's a reason for this.

The other majors, like the majority of big businesses, are mired in debt and receding returns, left to pace in boardrooms for salves to their glaring wounds. More so than the swooning numbers, the "others" don't seem to have an effective amount of control over the direction of their sport.

The NBA, while by far the most effective in globalizing their product, now ironically must deal with the implications of a global market for basketball. Brandon Jennings, Josh Childress and Jeremy Tyler are just the beginning of a more competitive climate for talent. MLB is often its own worst enemy in regards to public relations and the eroding credibility of the baseball superstar isn't helping. The NHL was simply mismanaged like an over-expanding fast food franchise.

The value of these comparisons may not seem so clear, but I was compelled to consider how the other major sports leagues moderate and direct their leagues. While the other majors' issues aren't tied as closely to off-field conduct as with the NFL, they do speak to a larger question of the consistency and effectiveness of their governance.

While the question is whether the NFLPA should be more proactive in the penalty process, I see it more as an overall ideology that the NFL has long adopted, one that the NFLPA has long accepted.

Over the years the other majors have loosened the reins of control over their product while the NFL tightened theirs. There are clearly a multitude of reasons that the others are struggling, but there is a nearly singular reason why football is still healthy; simply put, the NFL protects their product aggressively and effectively in ways that other leagues simply can not or have not.

In the face of a particularly embarrassing era of player conduct the league has in turn crafted a hard line approach that seems to have satisfied the masses (or at least the numbers say so). There's little doubt these days that consequences in the NFL will rain down swiftly and sternly.

In terms of the Plaxico Burress scenario, this isn't like when baseball was aware of the consistent use of illegal substances amongst their players and choose not to invite the legal process into their drug policies. The NFL is applying the power that the NFLPA has afforded them without circumventing or meddling in the legal process. Burress broke the rules that his union agreed to just as he broke the rule we agree to as citizens not to shoot ourselves in dimly lit nightclubs.

Commissioner Goodell wields uncommonly broad power over the NFL workforce. The power and the consistency of the league's uncompromising conduct policy have so far staved off potentially its greatest modern threat. Everyone involved with the NFL must accept its terms, and this is non-negotiable.

By Jim McCormick  |  June 29, 2009; 5:41 PM ET  | Category:  NFL , Roger Goodell Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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