The Fall of the Bulldog
What a difference 12 years at the helm of the NFL makes. When Roger Goodell took over for the retiring Paul Taglibue in 2006, he was a proverbial bulldog who wouldn’t hesitate to bark at you if you so much as looked at him the wrong way. But 12 years later, Goodell is just an old dog with his tail tucked between his legs. So what happened? What happened to the ironclad NFL commissioner who used to tell team owners who disagreed with him to go “kick rocks”? When did that guy become so soft that he became Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ doormat? But perhaps the best question is this: How did we get to the point where a simple tweet from the President makes Goodell run scared and do his bidding?
Goodell was pressured by Donald Trump to adopt a rule that would force all NFL players to stand for the National Anthem following Trump taking exception to various players across the league kneeling in protest of police brutality. This obviously has ruffled a few feathers and a large number of players have actively discussed a boycott, which obviously would be disastrous to the league.
What’s sad about Goodell’s actions is that he doesn’t seem to understand that acquiescing to Trump’s request won’t make him forget about it; it’ll only get him to focus on it more. If Goodell had simply done nothing during the offseason, the issue would have likely blown over and we would have forgotten it. However, since Goodell made this rule, it will remain forever as a stain that tarnishes the NFL.
This will be remembered on the level of the Black Power Incident from the 1968 Olympics. Back then, two black American track athletes held up fists during the American National Anthem, resulting in the International Olympic Committee banning them from all future Olympics. The backlash to this was so great that the IOC had to issue an apology 20 years later. The NFL will likely attempt to do the same somewhere down the road. The problem is that they will not be so easily forgiven.
In short, Roger Goodell will eventually lose his job because of this and the league will suffer greatly as a result, and Donald Trump will continue pester the league with criticism that players aren’t standing for the National Anthem when all football fans want to do is watch the game.