Jerry Jones

Curran: Six more years of Goodell doing their bidding is just what owners wanted

Curran: Six more years of Goodell doing their bidding is just what owners wanted

Roger Goodell turns 59 in February and this week NFL owners approved a contract for him that will keep Goodell running the NFL until 2023 when he’s 65.

By then, Goodell will have served a longer term as commissioner than his predecessor, Paul Tagliabue.

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Like Tagliabue, Goodell may never get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The hammer used annually to beat down the candidacy of the scholarly and dignified Tagliabue is that he not only dismissed the long-term threats of concussions, he actively worked to make sure players didn’t get the best treatment or information.

In 1994, Tagliabue bowed to pressure from New York Jets owner Leon Hess and put the Jets team doctor Elliott Pellman – a rheumatologist – in charge of concussion studies and protocol.

Tagliabue explained his decision, saying, “Hess said that [Pellman] was a hard worker, he was highly intelligent, he was a good organizer and he could work effectively with coaches and players and he was willing to stand up for the medical point of view and not be cowed. So I put Dr. Pellman in charge, knowing what his specialties were. It was truly based on track record that these men had with their teams and what I thought they could help us accomplish with internal change.”

That’s the job in a nutshell, isn’t it? You get paid a silly amount of money and get to pretend you’re in charge but really, the NFL Commissioner is the owner’s patsy and fall guy. Owners with the most sway are the ones with the biggest stores of money and seniority that own teams in vital markets with massive fanbases. Those are the ones that whisper in the commissioner’s ear and make him do his bidding.

So, Hess set up Tagliabue with Pellman and the concussion millstone is going to keep Tagliabue out of Canton. Tags can ruminate on that while looking out on whatever amazing view he now surveys in retirement.

Goodell’s reign will probably end the same. He’ll make more money in his 17 seasons as commissioner than Tom Brady will in 20 years as the best quarterback in the game. But the fat stacks of money will be part of the broader problem with Goodell’s image. 

The mom-and-pop NFL presided over by the league’s first commissioner, Pete Rozelle, and Tagliabue was an old boy’s network in which the game itself was sanctified and the owner’s – with the exception of Al Davis – got along. The graft, string-pulling and Machiavellian moves were ignored by the media or kept out of sight. Protecting the golden goose seemed to be the priority.

Goodell’s installment was about making the goose as fat as possible. And he’s succeeded. The NFL’s salary cap in 2006 was $102 million. Now it’s almost $170M. The Patriots were worth $1.4 billion in 2006. They are worth $3.7B now.

The goose has cholesterol issues now. And hypertension.

On Goodell’s watch, the NFL brand, respect for the league’s decision-making and the public opinion of most NFL owners has taken a massive nosedive.

From Spygate to the 2010 and 2011 CBA mudwrestle to the 2012 NFL officials strike, Bountygate and Bullygate to the concussion settlement, to Deflategate to the abject mismanagement of domestic violence investigations, Goodell has made it so that whenever he utters his favorite word –  “integrity” – gales of laughter ensue.

The NFL is less interesting and its product is less watchable than the NBA’s.

It’s hard to consume a game without mental intrusion on myriad fronts – player safety, officiating, declining level of play, which player is just back from which suspension/scandal, replay confusion. When a clean and competitive game ends, there’s a feeling of welcome surprise. “Well, that was enjoyable for a change.”

Ironically, as the debate over Goodell’s extension came into view thanks to Jerry Jones, Goodell was actually in the process of doing a laudable job of negotiating player protests during the national anthem.

Even if his ultimate aim was to get players to cut the crap so his owners would stop screaming in his ear, even if the NFL ultimately tried to buy off player compliance by writing a check, Goodell actually walked through the minefield pretty deftly. 
He didn’t point any bayonets at players and make demands. He didn’t puff out his chest and act like he had the answers. It was unique in that, this time, it wasn’t Goodell who came out looking like a dolt.

But between now and 2023, Goodell’s going to have to go on a diplomatic spree to clean up his legacy. Owners are openly warring, TV ratings are stagnant or falling, the current Collective Bargaining Agreement runs out in 2021 and Goodell is still a Grade A bungler when it comes to investigations and discipline because of the boobs he’s surrounded himself with over the years.
His approval rating is approaching single digits.

And as of this week, the NFL signed up for six more years of the guy. They say you get what you pay for. In the case of NFL owners, they paid for a patsy instead of a leader. Someone who’d make them money, settle their scores and keep his mouth shut about where the league’s bodies are buried, That’s what they wanted. That’s what they’ve gotten.  

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Jones backs off Goodell, backs Garrett

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Jones backs off Goodell, backs Garrett

ARLINGTON, Texas -- As soon as Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones confirmed he is backing off a threat of legal action over the future of commissioner Roger Goodell, the focus turned to the performance of coach Jason Garrett and his staff.

That's how bad the tailspin is for a team desperately missing suspended star running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Jones said after Dallas' third straight loss by at least 20 points - 28-6 to the Los Angeles Chargers on Thanksgiving - that the compensation committee was being responsive to his concerns about a contract extension for Goodell.

While denying that his concerns are connected to Goodell's decision to suspend Elliott for six games over alleged domestic violence, Jones said he wanted all the owners to revisit the commissioner's performance after voting unanimously in May to let the compensation committee complete a new deal.

Jones' concerns have included the league's handling of protests involving the national anthem and the disciplinary power of the commissioner in the collective bargaining agreement, which is what Goodell used to punish Elliott after prosecutors in Ohio didn't pursue charges.

The issue turned into an exchange of threatening letters after Jones hired high-profile attorney David Boies. Jones said there will be an owners-only session to discuss Goodell's contract during the next NFL meetings Dec. 13 in the Dallas area.

"I just want to say we really have had, are having a lot of owner participation," Jones said. "It doesn't mean at all that we're not really pursuing what we want to get done, and that is have the owners in a very positive way give input and make everyone, including ourselves, accountable.

"I don't want to be redundant, but the business of standing down there didn't necessarily mean that you're not standing up elsewhere."

Jones' team is falling apart a year after the dynamic rookie duo of quarterback Dak Prescott and Elliott carried the Cowboys to the best record in the NFC at 13-3.

Dallas (5-6) already has twice as many losses, and Prescott more than double the number of interceptions (nine after four as the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year). The Cowboys still have three games left in Elliott's suspension, after winning the last three before the ban.

The slide hasn't reflected well on the coaches, with the Cowboys outscored 72-6 in the second half of the three losses. That lopsided number leads to questions about halftime adjustments.

"We all know that it has to get better, has to get together," Jones said. "I really think this coaching staff is tops. I think Jason is able to use everything that he's learned, as coordinator, as coach over these last years, and we've just got to get it together."

The last time Garrett faced questions about his job, the Cowboys were coming off three straight 8-8 seasons that ended with losses in regular-season finales that kept them out of the playoffs.

Since then, the fluctuations have been dramatic - NFC East champs at 12-4 in 2014, a first-to-last slide to 4-12 without injured quarterback Tony Romo a year later, followed by last season's sparkling year when Prescott shocked the NFL after Romo got hurt again.

And while the absence of Elliott and 2016 All-Pro linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring) is a huge part of the current slide, the Cowboys again aren't handling adversity well. Garrett admitted as much about 2015, and is about to have to do so again if the Cowboys can't reverse the slide.

Dallas plays Washington in the last of three home games Thursday, then starts a season-ending stretch of three out of four on the road at the last-place New York Giants.

"Obviously we've got to get it right," Garrett said. "That's my job. That's our job as a coaching staff. We just haven't done enough on either side of the ball or in the kicking game to allow us to compete toward the end of the ballgame."

Jones, who spoke to the team after the game but declined to offer details, tried to say he wasn't giving the "negative vote of confidence" by continuing to show faith in Garrett, who got a five-year contract after winning the division and his first playoff game in 2014.

In his seventh full season, Garrett is 63-52 in the regular season. Only Tom Landry, who led the Cowboys for their first 29 years, has coached the team longer.

"I feel about this staff the same way I feel about my mirror - that's what if there's some changes made, don't change what's in front of the mirror, because I can change what you're doing that the mirror is seeing," Jones said. "Candidly, I'm really not shaken. I'm disappointed, but there's no shake here."

That could change if the blowout losses don't stop.

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Report: Jones may still go after Goodell

Report: Jones may still go after Goodell

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who has backed down from his threat to sue the NFL over commissioner Roger Goodell's contract extension, is adamant about his fellow owners discussing it at a Dec. 13 meeting, according to Pro Football Talk.

Here's more from Charean Williams of NBCSports.com's Pro Football Talk.