If nothing else, the Jolly Roger is a pragmatist and a realist. He concedes that his league’s policies designed to increase the number of head coaches in the NFL haven’t worked, aren’t working and—as currently structured—aren’t going to work.
Goodell does have a NASA engineer mindset and demeanor. Identify the problem. Work the problem. Fix the problem. And don’t get defensive about the problem. Yeah, the last one blew up on the pad and made an awful mess. OK, we’ll take the next one to the moon and back.
I don’t doubt his sincerity. But I don’t know where he goes from here. And right now, he doesn’t either. He openly admitted that on Wednesday.
Heavy-handed affirmative action? Bad idea. Quotas? Even worse. But the status quo? In Goodell’s own words, that’s “unacceptable.”
Most days, Being Roger is probably a pretty good deal. But at some level, I feel for him. Dang, you go to the Super Bowl for shrimp cocktail, and all you get is red sauce on your white shirt.
Here’s the structural issue. The NFL is set up exactly like the United States government. It is a federalist system. Yes, the league has an executive branch, in the form of the commissioner’s office in New York. So Rog is The Prez.
But the 32 teams are like 32 states, each of them screaming “states’ rights!” from the heights of their tax-subsidized flying saucer stadiums and luxury suites.
The 32 team owners are like 32 state governors, only in this case freed from worrying about re-election.
And yes, you got your blue “states” and your red “states.”
That’s gridlock. The owners aren’t going to obey any “mask mandate.”
Understand, there was open, blatant racism in the NFL two decades ago with respect to black quarterbacks, black centers, black middle linebackers, etc. We got past that. Oh, and now we have plenty of black coordinators as well. That’s good.
But this is different. I find it hard to believe that any owner in the NFL has consciously decided, “I’m not hiring a black head coach.” That just doesn’t make sense.
This is about personal comfort. And in some ways that may be more insidious and intractable than overt racism.
I don’t know what you can do about that. And right now, neither does Roger.