Commentary

Storin: Goodell not having Super week so far in New Orleans

storapse@aol.comJanuary 31, 2013 

Ray Lewis answers questions Wednesday in New Orleans.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

One would expect that Super Bowl week in New Orleans would be a celebratory time for the commissioner of the National Football League Roger Goodell.

In its 47 years, the Super Bowl has evolved into America's premiere sporting event, with an estimated 179 million expected to watch Sunday on CBS. According to the Harris Poll, professional football is more popular than baseball, auto racing and men's professional basketball combined.

Super Bowl TV ad revenue last year was $262.5 million. By way of comparison, baseball's World Series ad revenue last October was $153 million for four games.

So why is Goodell having a bad week?

1. The fans in New Orleans are still smarting over the penalties handed down to the Saints in the bounty case and are giving him a rude welcome around town.

2. On Monday, USA Today published results of a poll that claim 61 percent of NFL players disapprove of the job Goodell has done overall.

3. Baltimore Ravens safety Bernard Pollard says he doesn't think the NFL is going to be in existence in 30 years because of rules changes that are meant to make the game safer.

4. President Obama told The New Republic that if he had a son he would probably not let him play football.

5. Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco criticized the decision to play next year's Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, calling it "stupid" to schedule the game at a cold weather site.

6. An article in this week's Sports Illustrated linked the Baltimore Ravens' Ray Lewis -- the biggest name in Sunday's Super Bowl -- to a banned substance (deer antler extract) purported to accelerate healing.

7. CNN and the New York Times claim that the NFL has chosen a referee for Sunday's game, Jerome Boger, who might not be the best qualified man for the job.

I suspect that these topics will be raised at Goodell's annual Super Bowl press conference on Friday.

Perhaps the commissioner over-stepped his bounds with his bounty case penalties, but Saints fans should remember he was instrumental in keeping the team in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

On the other hand, I think Goodell is right on target in his efforts to make the game safer with heavy fines for helmet-to-helmet hits.

The notion that rule changes to make the NFL safer will eventually water down the game so much that fans will get turned off, as Pollard contends, is absurd.

I read this week that 31 of the 32 most-watched shows last fall were NFL games. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was the other. The NFL is here to stay.

As for Obama's comments, there are plenty of parents who agree with him. But considering current politics, there are probably a lot of Republicans who are suddenly urging their sons to get out there and throw the ball around.

Flacco's comments were a one-day story, but Lewis and the deer antler extract is likely to take on a life of its own.

The story surrounding the choice of Boger is most intriguing. CNN claims that many believe the referee assignment was pre-determined and that his performance grades were fixed to attain that result.

"What is happening right now is that the best officials are not working the best games," Jim Daopoulos, a former NFL official who is now an officiating analyst for NBC, told the New York Times.

Daopoulos said the league's motivation to promote Boger, who is black, was to promote "diversity in the rank and file. And for that reason, they've tried to work this thing out so that Jerome could have the Super Bowl."

I can't wait to see how Goodell responds to that one.

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