The League

Michael Kun

Michael Kun

Co-author of The Football Uncyclopedia. He is also the author of six other books and is a practicing attorney.

Give Goodell a Raise


Roger Goodell makes a lot of money. How much? Last I heard, it was around $11 million per year. I know he agreed to take a paycut this year because of the economy, but I don't remember if the $11 million was before or after the paycut, and I don't care -- $11 million is a lot of money, pre-paycut or post-paycut.

And do you know what? It's still not enough money. That's right: Roger Goodell is underpaid. Why? Because he has one of the least enjoyable jobs in sports. Sure, he gets to go to all of the NFL games he wants and, yes, he gets to hobnob with [insert the name of your favorite player]. He probably even gets all the free NFL merchandise he wants too. But, think about it: when was the last time you saw Roger Goodell smile? Or, more accurately, have you ever seen Roger Goodell smile?

He should have been smiling during last year's Super Bowl, which was one of the most entertaining championship games ever, in any sport. And he should have been smiling when he announced that Matthew Stafford was the first pick of the draft a few months back because he had millions upon millions of people watching what was essentially a bunch of names being read aloud.

Maybe I've just forgotten but, what sticks with me is the somber face of a man who has too much on his plate. You and I might not think of it much, but I'm sure Goodell spends many a sleepless night worrying about a possible lockout in 2011. (And the new Executive Director of the NFLPA, my law school classmate DeMaurice Smith, is probably losing sleep over it, too.)

That's exactly what Goodell should be worried about. And that's exactly what Goodell is being paid handsomely to worry about. He's overseeing the most popular game in the country, a marketing machine that practically mints money, and he's got to find a way to make sure it continues in the right direction. He's seen what's happened to the NHL since they lost an entire season to labor issues. Or, more accurately, he hasn't seen what's happened to the NHL because it's seemingly disappeared.

But instead of focusing on those important labor issues, he's been made to spend a considerable amount of his time acting as the NFL's sheriff, not as it relates to the games themselves, but as it relates to what the players are doing off the field. Now, when he signed on to replace Paul Tagliabue, Goodell certainly understood that he was going to be stuck having to deal with players violating the league's drug testing policy.

Why? Because one NFL player or another is always violating the league's drug testing policies. Why? Because they can. Why? Because, ultimately, no one cares about the league's drug testing policy. Not the players, not the owners, not the fans, not the media. A player gets caught violating the policy, he sits out four games, comes back fresher than ever, leads his teams to the playoffs, makes the Pro Bowl -- and everyone forgets he even missed those four games in the first place. Or, if it's not a "name" player, no one even notices. Right or wrong, that's the reality of the league's drug testing policy.

And Goodell knew he had to deal with that. But when he signed on as commissioner, do you think Goodell really expected that he would have to deal with Pacman Jones? And Michael Vick? And Donte Stalloworth? And Plaxico Burress? Sure, he knew that something unexpected was likely to come up, but there is no way on earth that he had any idea he would have to deal with all of this.

And, if he did, he either would have turned the job down, or he would have demanded even more money. Because there is no other commissioner in sports who has to devote so much of his time to playing the role of sheriff. Bud Selig doesn't do it. David Stern doesn't do it. Gary Bettman doesn't do it. (He's the commissioner of the NHL, by the way. The NHL used to be one of the "big four" sports.) No one has to police his league's players for their off-the-field-conduct as much as Roger Goodell does.

It's time-consuming, and it's thankless. And, ultimately, no matter what he does, Goodell will be criticized for it. No matter how long a suspension he imposes, it's too long for some fans and not enough for others. And Goodell knows that. And no matter what Goodell does, it has no impact on the players in the NFL. None whatsoever.

Why? Because there isn't a single NFL player who is planning to ever get into a fight at a strip club, or drive drunk, or shoot himself in the leg. Oh, sure, they see those things have happened and that players get punished for it when it happens. But they just don't think that they will be the ones doing that. Which is probably why Roger Goodell always looks so unhappy.

Let's give the guy a raise. Or take him to see "The Hangover." I'll bet that would get him to smile. Especially the scene with the baby with the sunglasses.

By Michael Kun  |  August 21, 2009; 12:26 PM ET  | Category:  Crime , Donte Stallworth , Michael Vick , NFL , Plaxico Burress , Roger Goodell Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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A Raise?! He's a bigger corporate shill than Selig. First. he allowed TV to ruin the game by destroying any cohesiveness with non-stop "commercial breaks". It's rare to see a game go even 3-4 minutes without a "message from our sponsor". NOW he has extended NBC's contract for Sun. football for 2 more years! Barely mentioned is the continued approval of their "Flex Schedule". This means the tix you bought for the family for a nice Sunday afternoon in Nov.-Dec. is changed at the last minute to a frigid late night horror-show, forcing you to dump tix at a loss due to Mon. AM work-school. Yeah, thanks Roger, "the game can go on National TV (more money)? Screw the fans!"

Posted by: billalves714 | August 21, 2009 8:40 PM

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