Report: Roger Goodell 'terrified' player will die on field
ESPN The Magazine's Don Van Natta Jr. has written a lengthy takeout on the reign of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, providing some compelling details about what makes the league's No. 1 executive tick.
Van Natta was not granted an audience with Goodell himself but paints an interesting portrait via extensive interviews with people who operate in the commissioner's orbit.
This passage in particular caught our eye:
"One of (Goodell's) greatest fears: An NFL player is going to die on the field.
"Within the past year, Goodell has told friends privately that he believes if the game's hard-knocks culture doesn't change, it could happen again (Lions receiver Chuck Hughes died of a heart attack in a 1971 game). 'He's terrified of it,' says a Hall of Fame player who speaks regularly with Goodell. 'It wouldn't just be a tragedy. It would be awfully bad for business.' "
In a nutshell, that sums up the primary conundrum facing the commish. He and the NFL are constantly seeking ways to make the game safer, a quest that's dually perceived as noble and calculated given the thousands of lawsuits former players have filed against the league.
Some other quotes:
"Player safety is Roger's No. 1 priority," New York Giants owner John Mara says. "It's something, quite frankly, that he wants as part of his legacy as a commissioner."
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones: "Roger is the best qualified person that I know in this country to do something about player safety."
Lawyer Peter Ginsberg: "Based on my experience, the commissioner ... doesn't view individual players as anything more than commodities for the business." (Ginsberg also shares an anecdote suggesting Goodell has an explosive temper.)
NFLPA boss DeMaurice Smith, who's never been on the best terms with Goodell, calls his frequent adversary "truly one of the smartest, brightest executives I've ever met" but also accuses him of "diabolically brilliant" schemes aimed at enhancing league revenue while hurting player benefits.
The wide-ranging piece explores Goodell's role in Spygate, Bountygate, the player lockout, referee lockout and much more while consistently portraying a complex man navigating the demands of a difficult job.http://www.usatoday.com/story/gameon/2013/03/05/roger-goodell-terrified-espn-the-magazine-demaurice--smith/1965069/