The League

Jason Maloni
Crisis Communications Expert

Jason Maloni

Senior Vice President with
Levick Strategic Communications
and Chair of the firm's Sports & Entertainment Practice.

Hammer Time!

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Nobody in the NFL has put in more hard work in the off season this year than Commissioner Roger Goodell.

One might think all Goodell does is hand out suspensions. Despite the drama surrounding Pacman Jones, Mike Vick, Plaxico Burress, and Donte Stallworth, Goodell has been knee-deep in discussions about league expansion, head injuries to players and a wide variety of other matters. Yes, the commissioner does other things besides bring the hammer. Love him or hate him Goodell has set a new standard, not only in policy enforcement, but on leadership too. It's an example the heads of other professional and collegiate sports organizations should take to heart.

Has Goodell's iron hand cleaned up the NFL? It is impossible to say. But what is clear is that all professional football players have no illusions that their bad behavior will have consequences. Ruling on guilt or innocence regarding specific players is one aspect of the NFL's personal conduct policy. Sending a message is another, and there is no doubt that Goodell has probably caused a few players to reconsider some of their off-the-field conduct. You always hear about the bad players who get caught. What you never hear about is the athlete who says to himself "you know what, I've been drinking. I really need to get a cab?" I'm certain that little mental conversation has happened more than once.

The NFL's got a lot to be proud of. Unlike Major League Baseball, nobody is questioning the sanctity of the game. The International Olympic Committee has the effectiveness of the United Nations and the transparency of a monarchy. The NCAA's effort to govern organization has long consisted of a wink and a nod. It has rules and regulations but, Memphis State aside, it's hardly a governing body showing leadership. Don't even get me started on international cycling.

Ultimately, it's up to the players to judge how well the personal conduct policy works, but from a reputation management perspective, Goodell's doing a damn good job. Better to be perceived as too harsh rather than too lenient. The extent of 2008's off season drama, dovetailed with unpredictable legal consequences has forced Goodell's hand, and in this situation, he's playing his cards right.

By Jason Maloni  |  August 21, 2009; 1:13 PM ET  | Category:  Crime , Donte Stallworth , Michael Vick , NFL , New York Giants , Plaxico Burress , Quarterbacks , Roger Goodell Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Comments

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I don't think it matters if Goodell's actions have cleaned up the NFL but it is what is right to do. When you do wrong things and things that put yourself and others in danger, there needs to be consequences. For too long, sports player's wrong actions have been dealt with way too leniently. Way to go Goodell - I don't always agree with every one of your decisions but he is making sure when players do wrong, they know there are consequences for it!

Posted by: wdsager | August 21, 2009 6:27 PM

Given that Goodell just let Vick back in the game, if this is the new tougher policy what was it like before? How big of a violent sociopath do you have to be for Goodell to ban you from the game?

Posted by: alstl | August 21, 2009 10:29 PM

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