Roger Goodell is doing his best to figure out how to be liberal and not alienate patriotic fans that are leaving in droves..
Warning – rant ahead.
The NFL released a letter Goodell sent to the owners regarding the controversy.
We live in a country that can feel very divided. Sports, and especially the NFL, brings people together and lets them set aside those divisions, at least for a few hours. The current dispute over the National Anthem is threatening to erode the unifying power of our game, and is now dividing us, and our players, from many fans across the country.
I’m very proud of our players and owners who have done the hard work over the past year to listen, understand and attempt to address the underlying issues within their communities. At our September committee meetings, we heard directly from several players about why these issues are so important to them and how we can support their work. And last week, we met with the leadership of the NFLPA and more players to advance the dialogue.
Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem. It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us. We also care deeply about our players and respect their opinions and concerns about critical social issues. The controversy over the Anthem is a barrier to having honest conversations and making real progress on the underlying issues. We need to move past this controversy, and we want to do that together with our players.
Building on many discussions with clubs and players, we have worked to develop a plan that we will review with you at next week’s League meeting. This would include such elements as an in-season platform to promote the work of our players on these core issues, and that will help to promote positive change in our country. We want to ensure that any work at the League level is consistent with the work that each club is doing in its own community, and that we dedicate a platform that can enable these initiatives to succeed. Additionally, we will continue the unprecedented dialogue with our players.
I expect and look forward to a full and open discussion of these issues when we meet next week in New York. Everyone involved in the game needs to come together on a path forward to continue to be a force for good within our communities, protect the game, and preserve our relationship with fans throughout the country. The NFL is at its best when we ourselves are unified. In that spirit, let’s resolve that next week we will meet this challenge in a unified and positive way.
For whatever reason, this “We need to stand but also we also need to showcase the players concerns about their social beliefs and perceptions” seems be an attempt to get a spot on Dancing with the Stars than a real commitment to deliver a product that fans can get behind.
While the letter states that “Sports, and especially the NFL, brings people together and lets them set aside those divisions, at least for a few hours”, Goodell has simply chosen to ignore sports fan canon in favor of figuring out how to continue to push social justice issues into the faces of consumers on the NFL platform.
I’m all for players, on their own time and energies, involving themselves in political causes for the betterment of their communities. Most of the efforts organized by the players deserve recognition. These initiatives can be catalyst for good and has been the cornerstone to Goodell’s vision of making the NFL more marketable to a larger audience.
In reality, Goodell has simply done more to hurt the game through his actions and failed leadership, and this controversy makes it even worse.
When the league’s new TV contract deal was completed in 2011 that runs through 2022, each network covering the league ponies up to $3 billion a year for the right to broadcast the games. This means the networks will have to market the product hard on the promise it will deliver quality games to get the advertisers to open up their budgets.
Part of that deal was based on the principle that the NFL would expand its audience numbers and that drove the price up by thirty percent. Goodell enjoys a multi-million dollar compensation package worth roughly $40 million by some estimates.
Goodell’s incentives include expanding NFL’s appeal across larger markets. Early on, it seemed to work, but lately, the numbers have turned sour.
The flag controversy has come during these ratings drops and the NFL is now hemorrhaging viewers. Some of those early losses were driven by Goodell’s inconsistent application of fines and suspensions against players. In some markets, fans, knowing of Goodell’s presence, offered complimentary boo birds, and other birds – not of the good kind.
However, league operations rules are very clear about player conduct during the National Anthem. Goodell’s long term imperative of trying to send signals to affect positive outcomes, both on and off the field, has failed. This controversy has opened the drain even larger.
Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones, while trying to show empathy to his players in kneeling before the anthem during the Cardinals – Cowboys game in Phoenix, recently reiterated his long standing directive that players WILL stand during the Anthem or will not play. For him, it’s about respect to the anthem and the flag. Other owners quietly share that sentiment. Jones has never been shy of the camera.
Instead of Goodell taking charge and enforcing league rules, he sidestepped in favor of the liberal belief that players protesting the National Anthem is a respected American tradition. And what’s more American than American football players exercising their constitutional rights of free expression – to sit – during the traditional honor of standing during the National Anthem…
…unless you violate sacred NFL marketing policies and wear something you’re not supposed to, like shoes remembering 9/11, then it’s huge fines!
Let me get this straight: Players sitting during an honored tradition is good for the game, even if you lose paying customers, than players painting “Remember 9/11” on their shoes and thus .. fined?
If the NFL needs a better understanding of how caustic the infusion of politics is into the average American’s choices for entertainment, look no further than the Hollywood movie business. Awards shows ratings – down. Movie ticket sales – down. DVD sales – down. Profits – down. Chinese billionaires are looking for bargains, so I hear. Wonder what their sexual harassment policies are like?
If you think American’s want to hear the political opinions of a bunch of self absorbed millionaire hollywood actors, then we surely want to watch the display of grievances from a bunch of second string players sitting during the National Anthem. Yeah, no. I’ll do spend my money somewhere else.
At some point, the financial guardians having to stand over the buckets of cash just to see the few dollars sitting at the bottom, will make hard choices in which the NFL may have to relive in the courts. At that point, it’s over.
When will the owners finally stand up to Goodell and make him do what he’s paid to do – deliver the All-American product we’ve come to love and expect to millions of hungry fans wanting to enjoy their Sunday afternoons at the game without any political nonsense?
Professional sports are all about getting away from the daily grind of the work week, and, of course, the barrage of political social justice warriors telling me I have privilege and racism rolled up in me since birth from the patriarchy infinitely ingrained in nature.. or something.
In short, Mr. Goodell, lose the political bullshit and bring back American football and its glory to its eager fans. Put politics aside while on the field. Make them stand. Play the game. How frakking hard is that?