Is Roger Goodell Pulling the NFL to the Left?
The league's commissioner faces new criticism from some owners.
It’s a new slight against the NFL that has taken shape over the past year. Commissioner Roger Goodell is actively pushing a liberal agenda that has swung the league left, as evidenced by the increase in protests on the field before games amid criticism from team owners and sponsors.
The Wall Street Journal‘s Jason Whitlock lobs this criticism with aplomb, using the hiring of former Democratic operative Joe Lockhart as really the only example that the NFL is shifting left. This, according to Whitlock, is pricesely what Goodell wants.
“Football is headed exactly where Mr. Goodell has steered it—to the left,” Whitlock writes. “The NFL has long been a combatant in America’s larger culture war. But Mr. Goodell—whose father, Charles, was a liberal antiwar Republican senator in the late 1960s—was always an odd choice to run it.”
Now let’s break down how truly puzzling that claim is. Goodell was hired to be a puppet for NFL owners. The justification for his $44 million salary was that he acts as a literal shield for ‘The Shield’ as it rakes in billions of dollars every year from sponsorships, TV rights deals, merchandise and actual games. Goodell speaks for an ownership group that leans highly conservative, with 25 percent of all NFL owners donating $1 million or more to President Donald Trump’s campaign. He’s done their bidding time and time again and will continue to do so.
The left-leaning claims sprouted recently after police brutality protests spread across the league and owners and players’ politics began crossing with the games themselves. Sports and politics mixing are nothing new, but the human pinata Goodell is being blamed because owners aren’t happy with the players’ actions.
“Mr. Goodell is paid $44 million a year to represent the views of the NFL’s owners, not players or himself,” Whitlock writes.
And he’s right. Which is why, as Goodell has overseen the most profitable period in NFL history, the owners have been happy to keep him around to shield themselves from controversy like the domestic abuse problem that haunts the league to this day. But it appears the owners, and writers like Whitlock, are suddenly ascribing some political conspiracy to his actions as if this isn’t all because he hasn’t punished or stopped players from exercising their right to protest.
The owners were so mad, in fact, some have tried to block his extension.
“There is, and was, something that is an issue,” a league source told ESPN.com. “I’d be very surprised about wanting to change Roger. I’d be shocked about that.”
If you’re going to call Goodell some liberal activist, how about using some actual proof other than allowing both conservative and liberal players to use their platforms without punishment.
Don’t be naive. The NFL isn’t concerned about red or blue issues.
It’s only in it for the green.