BOSTON (CBS) – “I’ll be happy to take your questions,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at his annual pre-Super Bowl press conference. But it seems he was happier to take some than others.
The commissioner was terse and evasive when asked about an artist boycott of the Super Bowl halftime show in protest over the treatment of Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco star shunned by NFL teams who could use a good quarterback, since he led on-field protests over police mistreatment of African-Americans.
“We’re extremely pleased with the diversity, the quality and the excitement surrounding our entertainers,” he deadpanned. “This is the biggest stage in the world and we know people want to be part of that.”
The B-list talent they wound up with for halftime, Maroon 5, were so excited they cancelled the traditional halftime headliner’s pre-game press conference.
“We have close to 200 million fans,” continued Goodell. “We know there are different segments who are going to have different reactions to different things that go on in our league but ultimately I think people respect and admire the things we do and want to be part of it.”
Kaepernick’s collusion lawsuit against the league is still pending. But Goodell has reason to be sanguine.
Since President Trump ignited a measurable backlash against the NFL 17 months ago with his pithy critique of the on-field protests (“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired!”) the protests have stopped and the league’s TV ratings have rebounded.
So for now at least, all is well in Roger world.
Concluded Goodell: “We have a lot of fans, the president among them.”
Goodell was asked more questions Wednesday about the non-call in the NFC title game that sent the Rams to the Super Bowl than about Kaepernick. And if that LA cornerback who got away with pass interference was as good a deflector as Goodell was today, there would be no controversy about the officiating.