NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has become the object of intense opposition from within the league. Now at the epicenter of intense political scrutiny from fans, players, and owners, Goodell may find it difficult to hold onto his job.
Leading the push-back against Goodell is Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who has gained popularity among the NFL fanbase for his insistence that his players stand for the national anthem. According to the New York Post, Jones headed a 17-owner conference call on Thursday discussing whether they should halt a contract extension to keep Goodell is commissioner.
Goodell’s contract has not been finalized, making him vulnerable at a time when the league is dealing with a number of controversies. At the top of the list is the issue of dealing with players who kneel during the national anthem as a form of protest.
NFL fans, who tend to be highly patriotic, have not taken kindly to the wide protests. A recent Fox News poll found that the majority of voters believe players kneeling during the national anthem is inappropriate.
Breitbart reports that ratings have continued to decline for professional football, placing the NFL in a tight spot with its source of revenue–advertisers. Viewership is down 5.1 percent from the same time period last year.
Jones has taken a different approach to the protest issue than the Commissioner. As noted by Christian News Alerts, the Cowboys owner has said that he will bench any player who does not respect the flag or the national anthem.
Goodell, on the other hand, has seemingly sided with the protesting players. CBS Sports reports that earlier this month, Goodell sent NFL teams a letter in which he wrote: “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.”
A few days later, Goodell called a meeting with players in New York. As covered by the Washington Times, the Commissioner “did not ask for” the players to stand during the anthem. Instead, he promised them support in bringing attention to social issues.
Goodell’s handling of the situation is causing NFL owners to reconsider their support for him. One owner who participated in Jones’ phone conference said “Maybe Arthur [Blank, head of the compensation committee] and that committee think they’re on track. But they have a lot more resistance than they counted on — and maybe they don’t know how the resistance is growing as we speak.”
Another owner asserted “You don’t get to have this many messes over the years like Roger has had and survive it.” Although the national anthem protesting is the most heavily publicized controversy Goodell is dealing with, there are other issues that have owners turning against the Commissioner. Many, for instance, are upset over the relocation of two football teams–the Rams and the Chargers–to Los Angeles.
Roger Goodell may be out as NFL Commissioner next year. Is this good news?
Removing Goodell from this position would take the vote of 24 owners. Some observers theorize Jones, who has long argued the Commissioner is overpaid, is looking for leverage to lower Goodell’s salary. Goodell has made over $200 million during his eleven years on the job.
For his part, President Donald Trump has been critical of the NFL Commissioner’s response to the protests. He has posted on Twitter: “Roger Goodell of NFL just put out a statement trying to justify the total disrespect certain players show to our country.Tell them to stand!”
Considering the declined NFL ratings due to national anthem protests alienating fans, replacing Goodell may be the only measure that can save the league.