It is past time for Roger Goddell to step down as commissioner of the National Football League.
The league has been a laughingstock for years, and for so many reasons.
One of those reasons is the blatant cheating that the New England Patriots have been caught doing year after year, with no repercussions. The fact that Patriots owner Robert Kraft is a close, personal friend of Gooddell’s makes the situation even more absurd.
This week’s version of the Patriots getting away with cheating has to do with illegally videotaping the Cincinnati Bengals’ sideline in last week’s game against the Cleveland Browns.
“Spygate,” or previous instances of Patriots illegally recording upcoming opponents, have been quietly swept under the rug, with no punishment whatsoever.
The fact that the Patriots generally have the easiest schedule year after year in the NFL is another absurdity that is routinely ignored. Why do the reigning Super Bowl champions get to play the worst team in the league in Cincinnati? After all, New England already gets to play the hapless Miami Dolphins and New York Jets twice every season, and those who make the schedule are supposed to penalize teams with the best records the previous season.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is — very arguably — considered by many as the G.O.A.T — the greatest of all time. That, too is absurd. Joe Montana never cheated. Jim Brown never needed to deflate footballs to get a better grip. Barry Sanders never openly pleaded with officials for favorable calls.
Whomever said cheaters never prosper obviously doesn’t watch the NFL.
Gooddell’s problems, unfortunately, go way beyond Patriotgate.
This is the same commissioner who took two thriving teams from their homes and all but forced them to move to Los Angeles, even when the league thrived for years without a team in the City of Angels. Los Angeles could have been awarded an expansion team, but that wasn’t good enough.
Gooddell doesn’t seem concerned with the fact that the majority of fans who actually show up for games in L.A. are cheering for the opposing team.
Even worse, he has forced teams to play on a dilapidated soccer field in smog-infested Mexico City — a city with an altitude of 7,350 feet. For comparison’s sake, the thin air in Denver is only at 5,280 feet.
Players who have played on the sandy, clod-infested field south of the border have complained — and worried — about the increased threat of injury, but Gooddell doesn’t seem concerned with the athletes who play under his watch. If he did, perhaps so many of them wouldn’t be in and out of trouble with the law.
Forcing teams to play “home” games in Mexico City and London — and rumors swirl that these games are expected to increase in number — also takes away lodging, restaurant, concessions and other income from the cities and teams that are actually adorned on the logos, costing those communities millions in revenue.
The officials who work under Goddell’s watch also have become a laughingstock. Phantom calls and no-calls have become commonplace in every game every week — again, with no repercussions.
When the Rams went to the Super Bowl last year due to a blatant and obvious no-call on pass interference against the New Orleans Saints, some committee of talking heads got together and created a rule that pass interference can be challenged by coaches. But all that did was further anger the dunderheads in stripes, who have refused to overturn even the most obvious idiotic calls and non-calls while costing the coaches a precious challenge.
Gooddell isn’t a sports-minded leader — he’s a politician, making an exorbitant amount of money ($20 million per year) to make reckless, dangerous and self-centered decisions that benefit himself and his friends over what’s best for the sport. The league — its players, its teams and its fans — have suffered for the decisions he makes.
Sports editor Joey Sprinkle can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.