Roger Goodell, National Football League (NFL) Commissioner, reigns as a dictator in the NFL. The NFL needs a more democratic system of governance. What’s ironic about this situation is this anti-democratic system of governance is situated in America—the greatest democracy and beacon of hope and freedom in the world. He has all of the power to control virtually everything that happens. Although I really have not been too happy with him since how he handled the Michael Vick situation, he has went too far with his ruling on how players may hit one another during a game. I have noticed that it has made some players more timid players because they fear getting fined and suspended. Football is a tough game to play, one that will involve violent hits—that’s just the game it is. When you start limiting the natural violent hits that will occur in football, you start changing the outcomes of games and start moving it more towards flag football.
When a player suits up to play in the NFL, he knows that he is going to get hit hard—it just comes with the territory. It seems that Roger Goodell is at war with James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Since James Harrison has been outspoken against him, it seems that Goodell is trying to show him that he’d better not challenge him. James Harrison has even met with Goodell to learn what is acceptable hitting in his view, but Harrison has still been fine for a hit since that meeting. I very much appreciate Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers for being willing to unapologetically and publicly challenge Roger Goodell. Troy Polamalu has publicly advocated for a more democratic system of governance in the NFL.
NFL fans should also voice their opinions to Roger Goodell because he is making significant changes that can dramatically damage the game that we all have come to love for years. As Kanye West says, “There’s no way one man should have all that power.” If we allow him to continue to have all of the power he has, I think that many of our great players will begin to retire, as James Harrison seriously considered. Of course, I don’t want players to intentionally attempt to use their helmets as weapons on the field, and we know when this is the case, but this does not mean that we have to fine and/or suspend a player each time there is helmet to helmet contact.
I contend that we need to move away from allowing Goodell to have all of the power to a system where he shares power with a committee of former players and coaches, which will make the governance of the NFL more democratic. Although I think that NFL players must rise up and unite behind a demand for a more democratic system of governance in the NFL, I think that the real key to making this change happen lies with us, the fans. When the fans unite and tell Roger Goodell that we have had enough of his dictatorship, he will be forced to make serious changes to the way he operates. NFL fans and players unite!
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Player poll: 61 percent disapprove of Goodell (espn.go.com)
- Steelers LB James Harrison Wowed By Roger Goodell 2011 Earnings (steelersdepot.com)
- Roger Goodell’s Salary Was Reportedly Nearly $30 Million in 2011 (bleacherreport.com)