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Making sense of Goodell

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by lillloyd, May 7, 2012.

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  1. lillloyd

    lillloyd On the Game Day Roster

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    I was going to post this in another forum as a response to a Saints poster re/ the severity of the bountygate punishment, relative to Goodell's handling of spygate...but the response grew so long I figured what the hell, I'll post it as a new thread. You guys are a thoughtful bunch and I'm curious to see what you think of my position on all of this.

    Personally I think there are really two things to understand about the league and Goodell, and how they currently hand out punishments.

    • Number 1, they're a multi-billion dollar business, so their overriding priority is to protect their brand. There's particularly nothing noteworthy or sinister about this--large businesses will act to protect themselves--but it goes a long way towards explaining the seeming arbitrariness of their penalties. Simply put, Goodell and the league are less concerned with the underlying transgression, than the degree to which the NFL 'shield" has been tarnished...so in fact the actual violation matters less than the amount of negative attention and media coverage that violation focuses on the league.
    • Number 2--and this is a corollary to number 1--the NFL is now dealing with the specter of waves of litigation from former players regarding safety issues. So violations that have any relationship to player safety are essentially opportunities for Goodell and the league to publicly and forcefully demonstrate its "commitment" to player safety--not so much to current players, as to courts and potential future claimants in lawsuits against the league.
    The various penalties assigned under Goodell's reign over the past few years start to make a lot more sense when viewed from this context. There's a reason the Saints' penalties were so severe, just like there was a reason why the fine and suspension structure abruptly exploded in 2010 for hits that only a few years before would have drawn only modest punishments (if any). Punishments are now assigned for public posturing reasons as much as for actual "fairness".

    This probably sounds very cynical and negative but I honestly mean this only descriptively (and actually not necessarily disparagingly): the NFL is a big business, and it acts like one. It has a questionable record on player safety over the years, and currently has a potentially serious legal vulnerability in this area. So the league and Goodell are acting accordingly.

    I'm sure there are well-meaning people (perhaps, Goodell among them) in the league that honestly care and want to improve player safety. But the sudden *severity* of the penalties has less to do with good intentions, and more to do with the league desperately trying to promote itself as safety-conscious in an uncertain climate. The NFL has spent several decades tolerating, celebrating, and frankly marketing/promoting the very violence it suddenly deems appalling. The penalties are draconian now because while they may or may not have truly cared about player safety over the decades, they certainly care about *lawsuits*.

    Personally I wish that Goodell could just stand up without all the sanctimony and outrage (which is unfortunately all too easy for media types to parrot, and pile on to), call a spade a spade, and just be honest about why he's become more of a sheriff than a commissioner. For example, he could say:

    "Starting now, we're going to hand out massive penalties for crap we know has probably been going on forever in this league. This is partly because we do actually care somewhat about the players and their safety (our pursuit of an 18 game schedule notwithstanding). But mostly it's because we have an endless parade of lawsuits from players staring us in the face, all related to our possibly negligent stance on safety over the years.

    We know it's not exactly consistent or fair. And we recognize it's actually a bit hypocritical because we've sort of looked the other way on these issues for a long time, and frankly may have been beneficiaries--both in a promotional, and an actual *monetary* sense--from a lot of this stuff. But any hypocrisy and unfairness aside, we still HAVE to make this change, because these lawsuits represent a legitimate threat to the long-term viability of the NFL as we know it."

    While this statement would never actually happen, it would certainly make the NFL's somewhat inconsistent handling of player violations over recent years easier to understand.
     
  2. Gronkandez

    Gronkandez 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

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    I've been thinking this for a while and have wondered why media guys haven't said the same thing. To me that's clearly what's going on.

    It's all about dollars and cents, and not that much about player safety. Now about that 18 game season.....
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2012
  3. ausbacker

    ausbacker Brady > Manning. PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #87 Jersey

    When rules are altered to outlaw particular types of contact, if you think that's about financial issues you're sadly mistaken.

    The NFL does not benefit from seeing players knocked out, concussed and dying early. That's not a financial standpoint, that's brand management and quite simply looking after the interests of those who comprise their core product; football.

    Big business isn't dumb. They work all angles. That's why they're big business.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2012
  4. Gronkandez

    Gronkandez 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

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    Why didn't they change the rules 20 years ago? Is it because the Legaue didn't know knocking people out cold was dangerous back then? IMO it's because the threat of litigation wasn't strong until recently.

    The League has always benefitted from knock out hits. How many times are these types of hits shown on replays? Fans watch partially for the big punishing hits.
     
  5. ausbacker

    ausbacker Brady > Manning. PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #87 Jersey

    The league has changed because the world has changed. It's not an issue confined to just the NFL.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2012
  6. Gronkandez

    Gronkandez 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

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    Fair enough but how do you explain how the 18-game season? Clearly this puts the players more at risk for further injury.
     
  7. ausbacker

    ausbacker Brady > Manning. PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #87 Jersey

    I have no doubt the potential expansion of the regular season is a money making venture. There's no other reason for it.
     
  8. RelocatedPatFan

    RelocatedPatFan In the Starting Line-Up

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    You know, even as a kid I knew somking had to be bad for your health. So, when my 3 pack-a-day parents told me, they had no idea smoking was bad for you, I had to laugh at them.

    Same thing here in football, nobody here knew that getting knocked around for 10 years could lead to long term issues? Then, I'd say they refused to look at the bigger picture and it's hard to believe the thoughts never came intro their heads. It's mostly taking the glory and the $$$ that come with it as most of them probably have no other opportunity to earn that degree of "lifetime" earnings.

    I am in favor of lifetime medical for these guys, but it has to dawn on them some time tht they may have long term issues. it's like a pitcher who you know is throwing at a batter after he hit a grand slam the last time he was up. Even if the pitcher says he's trying to establish the inside of the plate, you know it's not true.
     
  9. Steve:Section 102

    Steve:Section 102 Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    I wrote a post on this in Nov '10, tying the NFL's labor issues to player safety in an effort to "impose" an 18 game schedule. Certainly, protecting the shield against a class action lawsuit would be a larger priority for the league.
     
  10. Patriot_in_NY

    Patriot_in_NY Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    Well, I don't think it's all that much of a revelation to say that "it's about the money". I mean, it's always about the money in business and football is no different.

    With that said, I think there is another escalator in there that jacks up the severity of the penalty as well, and that is lying or deliberately continuing activities after the league (or Goodell himself) says to stop.

    Both in Bountygate and Spygate, the fines and penalties were very steep and what many would consider excessive. I think that in large measure was due to the fact that both the Saints, and BB were previously told to cease and desist the activities prior to getting caught (either in person, or memo). I think that that factor often outweighs the actual infractions themselves.

    I think that that, coupled with the "big business" money angle combines to raise the penalties, at least in those two cases.
     
  11. Blizzzard

    Blizzzard Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    #54 Jersey

    So what you're saying is....... Its about money.
    Perhaps you meant its less about the cost of the lawsuits, and more about revenue lost by damaging the product ie., looking bad to the public or being without marquee names due to injury?
    I believe the OP touched on that as well though
     
  12. peterforpats

    peterforpats Practice Squad Player

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    concussion research is very new and no, i don't think they understood the long term effects of "getting your bell rung". i think they know now and have to walk i fine line between safety and changing the game so drastically it becomes another sport entirely. personally, i know goodell catches a lot of flak here and elsewhere, but i think he is doing a fair job with the right balance- there is a reason pro football is the #1 sport in the USA. he is by far the best commisioner right now and faces much tougher issues any other commisioner has /will deal with.
     
  13. PatsDeb

    PatsDeb PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Goodell is a little NY Napolean. Plain and simple. No big explanations needed. Can't believe the Krafts actually seem to like him and didn't oust him when they had the chance. Must be the "devil you know is better than the one you don't" mentality.
     
  14. JoeSixPat

    JoeSixPat Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    My assessment of Goodell is that public perception = reality in his mind, and he will hand out punishments and/or set rules based on public perception

    Spygate is an excellent example. Even though signal stealing had been the norm, with NFL rules actually allowing the filming of signal calls, with a 2006 memo clarifying that to prohibit sideline filming "for use on game day" when the story broke the vast majoriy of the public and even football fans expressed shock and dismay that anything of that nature would be happening in the NFL

    Forget the reality of documented actual "spying" going back to the 1950s with George Halas, Lamar Hunt and George Allen and others - or the reality that the NFL rules still allowed filming of signal calling from the stands...

    Goodell's reaction was to treat the Patriots as if they were the exception and not the rule when it came to such things - and he was more than pleased to ultimately have helped create an environment where even today, most football fans bask in their ignorant belief that the Patriots were the lone team engaged in this practice (despite numerous coaches who made clear they were not), not questioning why coordinators continue to cover their mouths when calling in plays.

    Bountygate was similar - as Rex Ryan admitted he routinely would tell which players to target and as much as I'd like to jump all over Rex, I get the feeling that's been the norm (though paying incentives to players puts it in a whole different realm)

    Of course in this case I think Goodell himself should be on the hot seat for fostering an injury reporting policy that only serves the interests of legal and illegal gambling, putting those interests higher than that of player safety, and actively fining coaches who fail to comply with a policy that puts their own players at risk.
     
  15. PrairiePat

    PrairiePat Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    Hrmmm, ummmm, no. This is a commissioner who forever tainted the legacy of the Pats with his heavy-handed penalties in 2007. He is reactionary to the point of absurdity on punishments, while campaigning for things like an 18 game season and international expansion which will add risk to the players and dilute the product. He appears to be motivated strictly by the bottom line, listening only to lawyers ('We're going to get sued!!") or marketers ("We need more exposure!!").

    A 'good' commissioner would have called BB to a private meeting in 2007 and blasted him behind closed doors, if he felt BB was pushing the boundaries of the rules. A 'good' commissioner would have gradually ramped up penalties for head-hunting players, understanding that it may take time for the culture of the NFL to change and adapt to the times. A 'good' commissioner would have scrapped the Pro Bowl years ago, would have limited commercials during TV broadcasts, would have replays managed by off-field personnel, would have ditched the 'throwback uniform' idea, and so on.

    I frankly think Goodell has had the easiest job of all the commissioners - his league is king of the sports pyramid in the US, and even the spectre of head injury lawsuits won't really change that. It's a sport that's made for TV - fast, exciting, has lots of built-in breaks for advertisers, has fixed length games, etc. All he has to do is not mess that up too much. He has an easier job than the commish of a declining sport like baseball or basketball, or a niche sport like hockey.
     
  16. Deus Irae

    Deus Irae PatsFans.com Retired Jersey Club PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Disable Jersey

    Thank you for your input, Mrs. Goodell.
     
  17. lillloyd

    lillloyd On the Game Day Roster

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    I agree re/ Spygate. My guess is that other teams did this; but the Pats were the only ones caught. Again, Goodell's penalty severity was assigned not based on the "merits" of the underlying infraction (Goodell's not stupid--I've got to believe that at a minimum, he had strong suspicions that the Pats weren't unique here, and I'm sure he believed that any advantage gleaned from the taping was marginal at best). Rather, the severity was assigned based on potential PR damage to the league.

    Goodell and the league may fully understand how misinformed and misguided mob/public perception can be, but they'll still go to great lengths to cater to it. With Spygate, they feared that the public perception of an uneven playing field and illegitimate championships would spread like wildfire. Their response was proportional to the threat of that public perception evolving, rather than the damage done by the actual underlying act. Ultimately I think that's the main reason you guys got the penalty you did.
     
  18. lillloyd

    lillloyd On the Game Day Roster

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    The initial, major escalation in the fine and suspension structure in 2010 wasn't based on actual rules changes; the league actually went out of its way to say that it was simply enforcing rules already in existence. Why the abrupt, dramatic emphasis? I believe (and as other posters have suggested on this thread) that this is because the league knew they had to shore up their position on player safety in a very public way, in order to their aggressive push for the 18 game season that year.

    BTW I'm not saying that Goodell or his NFL colleagues are terrible people, or that they're exclusively about dollars and cents. But the NFL is a big business, and IMHO it would be naive to think that financial considerations are n't always at or near the forefront of their minds. If the NFL were a publicly owned company, and I were a major shareholder, I would probably be pushing Goodell to take exactly the sort of actions he's been taking, because the player safety issue is a legitimate threat to the league.

    So I disagree with your point--I think the recent rules changes--and in particular, the *timing* of the recent rules changes--outlawing certain types of contact are absolutely and fundamentally about financial issues. That's not to say these changes shouldn't be made--no one wants players dying or suffering due to head trauma, including Goodell (who's not an ogre)--but the reality is that this sort of thing has been going on for a long, long time. One of our own all-time Steelers greats, Mike Webster, suffered dementia and depression, likely due to brain damage...and he played in the 70s. He's hardly the only example. It strains credulity to suggest that not a single member of the NFL business has been able to put 2 and 2 together until now.
     
  19. RelocatedPatFan

    RelocatedPatFan In the Starting Line-Up

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    The owners wanted Goodell back so he seems to be doing something right by them (and the business in general).

    with all that being said, i still say "Burn the witch!" (fired would be good enough).
     
  20. AzPatsFan

    AzPatsFan Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    I think that the NFL and Goodell are very afraid of the ever growing group of pirates and thieves setting their eyes on their industry.

    Sanctimonious phonies who have bankrupted many a business, throwing people out of work, and even destroying industries in search of their legalized thievery, are preparing to go after the NFL. Having destroyed ANY business who made, sold or even peripherally bought, products made of asbestos, tobacco, breast augmentation devices, chemicals or complex products like automobiles or power plants.

    At the same time the legal jackals have attacked the pharmaceutical industry for any imagined or dimly perceived lack of quality; or even the inevitable pernicious side effects, no matter how small, of their life giving products.

    The legal oafs have absolutely no sense of shame, and routinely steal 1/3 of the lifetime money they extort from poor unfortunates, for whom they theoretically represent. In most class action cases, they may have only had a secretary send a form letter, to participate in the eating of the carrion, and receiving 1/3 of the lifetime earnings of some unfortunate, hopeless, cripple. and yet they shed nary a tear.

    In a sane world, losers to this game of legal roulette would pay. But the legal phonies have rigged the game so they are safe on every side. At least until they devour themselves, or the the people wise up, as they have in Texas, under Governor Perry, and enact Tort Reform.

    They sue doctors, dentists, engineers, and other professionals, for unsuitable outcomes. They call "malpractice", when they have made themselves self-exempt. Have you ever even heard of a Malpractice case against an attorney? Even if there is an obvious prima facie case, that any attorney representing the losing side, should be subject to a malpractice case/review.

    Instead they reserve the review of their ethics to a self selected group of other attorneys to decide if they have gone too far, and "BAR" other legal redress. But these self-same crooks, never accept professional review panels of other professions as most suitable to discipline and maintain quality and punish the incompetents in their field. They want their emotional appeals, and very remunerative lawsuits, to serve instead.

    The legal profession now runs amok. It will eventually run out of other industries to extort from, and eventually turn and devour themselves. Shakespeare was right. "The first thing we have to do, is kill all the lawyers". As far as I am concerned the only good tort lawyer is a DEAD lawyer.

    Then we can call him a "Statesman" and erect statuary in his honor. Plus those statues serve a very useful purpose.

    Where else would the birds have to **** on, that actually improves the scenery?
     
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