Before you watch NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell give bear hugs to first-round draft choices tonight at AT&T Stadium near Dallas, you may want to read this recent Washington Post article on the league. It provides a good contextual backdrop for the draft and, to me (a huge football fan and Green Bay Packers shareholder) underscores how woeful the league’s response has been to the series of controversies touched off by Colin Kaepernick’s social justice protests during the national anthem.
While one can’t accuse Goodell of being invisible, I can’t imagine former NBA Commissioner David Stern taking nearly as low a profile as Goodell has as events have unfolded the past two years. As the article points out (and wayyyy late in my opinion), the NFL in January launched a 10-member social justice committee. To the best of my knowledge, the NFL never made any attempt to directly engage with President Trump after he stirred the pot early last season; optically, if nothing else, that was a mistake in my view.
I’m hopeful that, as the new season dawns, we’ll see Goodell and the owners and players on the social justice committee (if not others) providing much greater transparency about the conversations and actions that can yield enduring positives from the confusion of the past two years. To date, the efforts to compartmentalize events – football games here; meetings and conversations over there – haven’t worked. Fans want to see exciting football, sure; they also want to feel they’re not being manipulated by owners and league officials who just want to keep a lid on things for the sake of revenues.