Roger Goodell hasn't exactly cemented a legacy up to this point.
Following on the heels of the enormously popular Paul Tagliabue, the commissioner before him, Goodell has basically been known for unpopular player safety mandates, an increased rigidity to the structure of the league and an inoffensive popular persona. Up to this point, he's done nothing to put himself up with guys like Tagliabue and Pete Rozelle, and I think he's well aware of that.
If his latest move is successful, however, Goodell may someday be known as the commissioner who ended the 2011 NFL lockout.
Good and evil are purely subjective. While you may be inclined to think the owners, the players or some combination of the two are greedy and malevolent, they certainly don't see it that way. Both sides are entrenched in the belief that they are dealing from the right side of the issue, even if those of us outside the negotiations can only be exhausted by the rhetoric.
That said, the owners right now are eager to get back to the table, while the players are holding out for an April 6 court date. That, coupled with some major public relations gaffes over the last week or two, is starting to screw with the momentum the players had.
Ever the shrewd businessman, Goodell has chosen to strike while the iron is hot. On Thursday, he sent a letter directly to players outlining the NFL and owners' positions. From the linked ProFootballTalk article:
Goodell then summarizes the key elements of the proposal: maximum salary and benefits per team of $141 million per club in 2011, with maximum salary and benefits per team of $161 million in 2014; free agency for players with four or more accrued season; reduced draft-choice compensation for restricted free agents; extensive changes in offseason workouts; reduction of preseason and regular-season padded practices; increased days off; retention of the 16-game season through 2012 with no change to 18 games without the players’ agreement; expanded injury guarantees, with up to $1 million in the year after an injury occurs; continuing medical coverage for life; immediate increases in pension for pre-1993 players; a new rookie wage scale that would make $300 million per draft class available for veteran pay and player benefits; abd external arbitration of all drug and steroids appeals.
In a time where the NFLPA's leadership and the highest-profile players in the NFL are doing themselves few favors, the guys who stand to lose bonuses and more are going to at least mull this over. I'm certain the NFLPA can make a compelling argument against this offer, or even say it wasn't what was on the table, but Goodell has done his damage by sending this out and ensuring it made the rounds in the media.
Will it work? Chances are that the most it will do is bring the players back to the table, but that would be a huge stride in the right direction. The likeliest outcome is that it improves nothing, but it's one hell of a public relations move and it's probably the last resort before the courts intervene, very possibly on the side of the players.
Roger Goodell may go down as many things, but an idiot won't be one of them. What do you think?