By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — For several years, despite botching the Ray Rice domestic violence situation, despite making a mess of deflated football accusations, despite bungling the Josh Brown domestic violence situation, despite working to obscure information on brain trauma, and despite overseeing the league during some notable ratings drops, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has kept his highly lucrative job.
But in locking horns with Jerry Jones and in taking a passive approach to the player protests during the national anthem, Goodell may actually now be on the hot seat, so to speak.
An ESPN report from the weekend stated that 17 owners participated in a conference call over the weekend. It was led by Jones, who’s been unhappy with the commissioner imposing a strict form of discipline on star Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott, a fight that continues in the court system.
And as was made clear in the ESPN The Magazine story from Friday, several owners remain unhappy with the league’s response — or lack thereof — to player protests during the anthem, an issue that is causing many vocal football fans to not watch games.
As a result, the 17 owners on the conference call are “generally unhappy with Goodell” and “discussed the possibility of halting commissioner Roger Goodell’s pending contract extension,” according to Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen.
“You don’t get to have this many messes over the years like Roger has had and survive it,” an unnamed owner was quoted as saying on the call.
While the movement may be afoot, the owners are still a long way from removing Goodell. To do that, 24 owners would need to support the removal of the commissioner.
For Jones, seeking to impede a contract extension for Goodell is news that’s months old. However, the recent recurrence of the anthem protests in the wake of president Donald Trump’s comments has brought the issue back to the forefront. And with a group of owners being described as “hard-line” with regard to a desire to force players to stand during the anthem, the issue has brought more owners to Jones’ side.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a story about NFL owners without a strong dose of hypocrisy. That is a requirement. In this instance, it’s the notion that “issues regarding the relocation of teams to Los Angeles” are among the problems the owners are having with Goodell. Each owner made $53 million in relocation fees because the Rams and Chargers moved to Los Angeles and because the Raiders are moving to Las Vegas. Of all the issues to take with Goodell, relocation — for which owners voted 30-2 for the L.A. moves — shouldn’t be one.
Nevertheless, there’s a clash with the union scheduled for 2020, when the current collective bargaining agreement expires. The last time that happened, Goodell was at the helm as the league conceded almost nothing while turning the revenue split from roughly 50-50 about 48-52, with the owners getting the larger share. It was a magnificent win for the league and its owners. Goodell’s salary of roughly $30 million per year has reflected that.
Will Goodell be in charge for the next round of negotiations? For the first time in his tenure, his future actually looks murky.