Goodell leading league in the wrong direction

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By Sean – Beckwith Contributor

The National Football League isn’t a numbers-driven league like Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association are. It doesn’t have anything equivalent to Joe Dimaggio’s 56-game hitting streak or Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game. The NFL does, however, have one number that resonates with fans: 17-0.

The 1972 Dolphins team is the only team to finish a season undefeated. The 2007 Patriots came close, losing to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII. The NFL is different from MLB, the NBA and the NHL in that aspect. If NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell extends the regular season to 18 games, as he has talked about, he will eliminate the possibility of going undefeated – no team can win 21 games straight.

The 2007 Super Bowl was the best Super Bowl I’ve ever seen; we were witnessing history. Members of the 1972 Dolphins team were watching, hoping to remain the only team in their exclusive club.

Goodell has dollar signs in his eyes, though.

This move to 18 games is all about money. The regular season would extend to 20 weeks because an additional bye week would be added. We would get three more weeks of football. It is great for the fans, but what about the players? Concussions are being linked to Alzheimers and Goodell is changing the rules (midseason, mind you) to improve player safety. If he’s so concerned about safety, then why is he extending an already vicious regular season?

The contradictions don’t stop there, either. Goodell loves suspending players for inappropriate conduct. He doesn’t even wait for investigations to end before he pounds his gavel. However, he brings in former FBI agents to find out who sent pictures of Favre’s unit to Jenn Sterger. Anybody else would be suspended while the investigation took place. Favre, however, is a huge draw. The double standard is blatantly obvious. If David Garrard, Tavaris Jackson or Matt Schaub sent photos of their junk to NFL employees, they would be slapped with a four-game suspension in a heartbeat.

Andre Johnson and Cortland Finnegan threw down hockey-style in the middle of the Houston-Tennessee game and received no suspensions, just fines. Johnson landed the most obvious blows to head this season, but his next game was on the NFL Network. They couldn’t possibly suspend one of the best receivers in the league before his primetime NFL Network appearance.

Usually, I side with management during financial squabbles, but this time I’m with the players. It is absurd that NBA and MLB contracts are guaranteed and NFL contracts are not. What does it say about the system that some rookies get more guaranteed money than some well-respected veterans? An NFL player can lose his ability to walk with one bad or awkward hit. The NFL makes more money than the MLB and NBA, and it isn’t even close. Yet, you can be cut without pay if you blow a knee out, but the NBA’s Darius Miles received every penny of his $18-million deal after his career-ending injury.

And why does the NFL play a regular season game in Europe? Is there a reason other than money? Goodell is ruining the integrity of the game. The Detroit Lions and New Orleans Saints are one of the few things that give people in those cities joy. The owners have short arms and deep pockets. Players make the game, not owners, and certainly not commissioners. Players are the ones risking long-term physical and mental health, not you, Commissioner.

I’m surprised Hines Ward didn’t disappear like Nicky Santoro did after he publicly criticized the hypocrisy of the NFL. I support everything he said.

When Goodell delivered suspensions for off-field incidents, he preached integrity. Where is his integrity? What are his intentions? He’s playing games in London’s Wembley Stadium, promoting unfaithful players because they make money, preaching safety but adding games, ruining the one thing that makes the NFL different from the other major sports, leading the league toward a strike, and, worst of all, pissing off the fans.

It’s time for a change.

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