Goodell Needs Help

I normally don’t agree with guys whose hair is longer than any of my former girlfriends, but Troy Polamalu has a point. Roger Goodell has too much power.

Is he the commissioner, yes. Is the NFL his business, yes. Do I sound like Brett Favre at a postgame press conference, absolutely (ever notice he interviews himself, odd). I’d argue that Goodell’s reach has grown too far. His business is the business of the NFL. From numbers and TV contracts to public relations, that’s his business. What’s none of his business, however, is nitpicking players and plays on the football field. Roger Goodell never played in the NFL. He may run the business of the NFL but the play on the field is a foreign concept to him.

Perspective is important. Having been there before gives you the greatest advantage there is, wisdom. You can’t tell a recent divorcee to get over it unless you’ve been there yourself and know how. The most productive sales managers are those that have sold before. They understand objections and how to overcome them in a practical manner. Roger Goodell is a Monday morning quarterback with power. Frightening.

The only group Goodell has enlisted in his crusade against devastating hits are referees. This means not only can players be affected by this after the game, with fines and suspensions, but the outcome of games could potentially be altered due to the empowerment of referees to judge intent in .078 seconds. In the business world we call this micromanaging your workforce, and, it’s a bad idea. Successful business owners learn to delegate. I suggest Roger Goodell take notes.

There needs to be a separate committee reviewing each hit in question. This committee should consist of former NFL players and tenured coaches. They know what to look for. They understand the speed. They know the difference between an intentional cheap shot and a bang-bang reaction.

Another benefit of having a committee such as this would be the expanded enforcement of the rule. We debate only the hits the cameras see, this committee would know where to look for cheap shots away from the ball. Goodell can’t do this by himself while still preserving the game of football. Nothing alienates your workforce more than telling them how to do their jobs from an armchair.

Even though empowering the referees may seem like a good idea because they’re field level and closer to the action than anyone else, it’s not, at least not without replay. Case in point? The hit Kurt Coleman made on Austin Collie. Watching the play in real speed, it looked tragic. Seeing the replay revealed that Collie possessed the ball and braced for the hit by ducking his head to the same level as the defenders. Result? Scary, yes. Dirty, no.

However, Nick Collins hit to the back of the head of a defenseless Roy Williams was a cheap shot and should be the kind of hit the NFL takes a stand on and punishes severely. Williams was stretching for the ball but it was nowhere near him; Collins loaded up, launched himself into the air, head height, and nailed Roy with the crown of his helmet. Result? Scary, yes. Dirty, yes.

If the referees proved anything this past Sunday it’s that even though they’re in the midst of the action the speed of the game is so intense that snap judgments of intent are impossible. They couldn’t tell the difference between the Nick Collins and Austin Collie hits. Each hit warranted the same on-field  penalty, 15yds 1st down. It wasn’t until well after the 00:00’s that the hits were separated, Collins being fined Coleman not. That’s not good enough.

If the referees aren’t given any more than real time speed to make determinations of intent then we’re heading toward unprecedented controversy that’ll tarnish the league. Because of this I’m not prepared to give refs player ejection rights (which I feel will be most effective in rectifying the problem) unless they get a chance to look at a replay and communicate with an objective third party.

The issue of concussions and brain  damage is a serious one. It shouldn’t be taken lightly. But so is the integrity of the game of football. I’m all for weeding out cheap and dirty hits, but Injuries happen. Yes, even concussions will happen. That’s an undeniable fact. It’s unpreventable. It’s football.

But if things don’t change it won’t be football much longer.


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