Its time for Roger Goodell to go full heel
A few moons back, Duke Jackson wrote a terrific post about why he thought Lebron James needed to heel up. Because it’s difficult to create new ideas; and far more fun to steal other people’s I have appropriated this same belief to
Sheriff Ginger NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Roger has made this decision an easy one; he’s already almost there. When Vince McMahon signaled for referee Earl Hebner to ring the bell at Survivor Series ’97 as Shawn Michaels placed Bret “The Hitman” Hart into the sharpshooter, Hart’s signature manuever, it marked a pivotal moment in wrestling history. People already thought McMahon was annoying, and the memories of McMahon’s criminal trial against the federal government were still fresh in people’s minds. Eventually it took McMahon playing the straight arrow to the beer-swilling, hell-raising Texas rattlesnake Stone Cold Steve Austin to really make the turn official. People hated McMahon because he was trying to micromanage the WWE legend, much like the way Goodell has attempted to scrub the NFL in his short tenure as Commissioner. The fans see that, and as a result, they resent him for it.
Similar to McMahon, the foundations are already there for Goodell. Even with the lockout finally over, the anger has not abated. So why try to change it? Why not embrace it?
Just yesterday, Minnesota Vikings defensive end and
future UFC fighter pugilist Ray Edwards told ESPN he hated Goodell; and in 2010 he criticized Goodell’s salary. echoing a sentiment that more players are not afraid to express. The fans already hate Goodell, showering him with heat that McMahon would kill for, during the 2011 NFL Draft.
Why? Well, there’s a few reasons.
Let’s start with the fact that Goodell is rich, really rich. He banks $10 million per year; more then many of us will earn in a lifetime. Vince McMahon is rich, really rich, too.
The heel McMahon desperately tried to control his WWE; promote his stars, make sure everyone fell into line for the good of his company. Sound familiar?
Goodell rode in on a white knight and one of his very first acts was suspending Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones for the entire 2007 season; as well as former Bengals wideout Chris Henry for half a season. Then Tank Johnson, and more. Black defensive players got heavy suspensions, but white quarterbacks missing a Y chromosome got four games, despite two incidents strongly suggesting a pattern of strong sexually abusive behavior. The offensive players, especially QBs are the stars of the NFL, they get the star treatment.
Similarly, McMahon used The Rock as the ideal representation for his company and the ultimate foil for Stone Cold. McMahon never let a Monday night pass without unveiling another obstacle for the Rattlesnake to overcome, providing every advantage to whom he thought was the real breadwinner for his company. Eventally, McMahon was beaten by Steve Austin, who became one of the greatest WWE Champions in history and brought unforeseen wealth and credibility to the company, and the business.
But this is real life, not the WWE (much to my dismay). The lockout was all to real, and Goodell the man, although just contrived as the heel McMahon, really is micromanaging the game we love.
The evidence is ample. Last season the league inexplicably began arbitrarily fining players for tackles deemed too violent for tackle football. Not unnoticed by the NFL’s workers, black players were disproportionately fined; James Harrison even contemplated retiring for a full day before coming to his senses and rejoining the Steelers.
Goodell schilled ridiculous concepts on behalf of his bosses, the NFL owners, with the strings barely noticeable from the luxury boxes. For your sake and mine, we will just gloss over the ridiculous notion espoused by Goodell that the fans were clamoring for an 18-game season, and not asking for the NFL to lighten the cost of attending preseason games. That idea died faster then George W. Bush’s social security plan. At least McMahon knew when something wasn’t working. Steve Austin was originally meant to be a heel, but the fans cheered so much that he became a face (good guy in wrestling). Goodell doesn’t seem to possess such an intuition or he would have come down to the field in black boots and a shaved head by now.
Not to say he wouldn’t; Goodell clearly cares dearly how he is perceived by the fans. Like any half-decent politician Goodell is supremely image conscious; after all, Charles Goodell was a U.S. Senator from New York. Goodell also understands the power of message; and perception. Ironically the NFL Commissioner who has arguably worked the hardest to craft his image may be the most hated NFL leader in history.
Just before the start of the 2010 season, Goodell hand-selected New Orleans Saints season ticket holders to have a circle jerk at the Superdome. The whole thing reeked of political high-theater; spoon feed the Commish questions and let him ham it up for the NFLN. It looked awkward too, like the Tiger Woods press conference, insulated and self-centered. More staged events followed; Goodell visiting a Skyline Chili with Peter King; SI printing a huge article on Goodell, all but anointing him the savior of football. Read any Monday Morning Quarterback column by Peter King, full of sycophantic blather about the Commish.
This is all critically important to Goodell but it has largely been ineffective. It’s too transparent, and the fans see right through it. So why fight it? Hate can be fun.
Wrestling fans loved to hate Vince McMahon because America loves to unite in hatred. The British; Al Qaeda, Bin Laden, and now Goodell.
Are you ready for some football?
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