NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell earned a salary last year of $34.1 million, higher than any other NFL player but one. I don't know what he did to earn such a princely sum, since the last time I looked he has never thrown a pass, blocked for a runner or kicked for an extra point. But the minimum you should expect for all that money would be that he keeps the league growing and profitable with an ever expanding customer base. But in reality, I believe his mismanagement and failure to make the tough decisions has brought the league to his knees, with fans nationwide electing to stay home, turn off the TV, and finding new activities to do on Sundays.
Ratings this year are down from 17% from last year, which itself was a disaster. The situation is so bad that financial analysts warn that CBS's earnings will be down this year because of the large financial commitment the network has made to broadcast NFL football.
And in my opinion, you can largely blame it on Colin Kaepernick and Goodell's handling of the whole sorry affair.
The proper way to have handled this was to immediately lay down the law to Kaepernick and any other of the kneelers with league penalties and suspensions for their behavior. Instead Goodell tried to have it all ways, appeasing the players' union and not realizing the true customer base he must answer to are the football fans throughout the country, not the players.
The fact is that the players do not have First Amendment rights when on the field. The First Amendment prohibits the federal government from passing a law prohibiting their god-given right of speech. It does not allow you to spout your views in the workplace, and the league and team owners would have every right to bench, suspend or fire any player that does kneel for the anthem.
Imagine you go to Starbucks, and the barista hands out with every coffee a manifesto he wrote on how Obama is a communist. The owner of the store would have every right to fire that employee for using his position has a platform for his political views.
Suppose you take your kids to a Disney on Ice, and after the first dance, all the skaters get together and symbolically smoke a marijuana joint to express their support for legalization. Again, every one of them would then fired.
NFL Football is also a show, a weekly ritual of competition, patriotism and Doritos chips. Regardless of how you feel about the state of racial equality in America, the players are being paid to perform and have every obligation to respect the anthem. Once the game is over and they are on their own time, they have every right to make their opinions known.
Fans have spoken with their TV remotes that they want politics kept out of football, but today the NFL actually doubled down on political involvment and endorsed legislation called the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, a bill to reform the prison terms given to offenders that may have been harsher on black inmates.
Why is it the business of the NFL to endorse legislation that has nothing to do with sports?
Every knows what is going on. This is a sop to the Players union, who are mostly African-Americcan, to buy their cooperation and try and get the kneeling controversy of the front page. Sadly, these attempts to have it all ways never works. No doubt the players now can smell blood in the water, and I would not be surprised if even more trouble was to come, further eroding the fan base.
Rather than acting decisively and unequivocally before this got out of hand, Roger Goodell could have nipped this in the bud and saved the league. But instead Mr. $34 million man tried to have it all ways...a lesson all managers should heed.