NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is a candidate for Time magazine's Person of the Year? You've got to be kidding me. I can't think of a more divisive person, at least around these parts, so I visited Time's website and read his writeup to find out why he was being considered for the honor. Here's what I found.
"When he became NFL commissioner in 2006, [Goodell] took a hard line against player misconduct, handing out steep suspensions for bad off-field behavior," Time wrote. "Now, after evidence has emerged that head contact sustained in football could be responsible for long-term brain damage, Goodell is preaching player safety: he has enacted rule changes that seek to prevent dangerous hits and went so far as to suspend the coach of the New Orleans Saints, Sean Payton, for an entire season because of the team's bounty program."
I agree that Goodell has properly dealt with off-the-field issues and intentional on-the-field acts that require fines (i.e. Detroit Lions defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh's $30,000 fine for kicking Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub in the unmentionables during the Thanksgiving game).
The "preaching player safety" line is what gets me, and here's why: Last week, the Saints played the Atlanta Falcons four days after hosting the San Francisco 49ers. That's two games in five days. While Saints coaches and players talked about the matchups, they also discussed another big topic — how to allow players' bodies to heal while getting ready for another contest in an abbreviated time period.
I've heard players and medical staff compare the way a body feels after a game to being in a car wreck, and last week the recovery time for injuries was abbreviated. On the team's final injury report before the Atlanta game, cornerback Elbert Mack and safety Isa Abdul-Quddus were listed as dealing with concussions. Mack passed the tests that allow him to play, but Abdul-Quddus didn't. Wide receivers Marques Colston and Lance Moore were never on the injury report, but had to take concussion tests in Sunday's 49ers game because of hits they received to the head.
Atlanta beat the Saints 23-13 last week, and Drew Brees threw five interceptions and ended a 54-game NFL record for throwing touchdown passes in consecutive games. I opposed mid-week contests even before that loss.
There's no need for Thursday night football. No player or coach likes it, and the turnaround for teams who just played a Sunday or Monday game requires them to squeeze multiple practices into single days, further shortening recovery time.
The NFL began Thursday Night Football in 2006 with a five-game schedule that began Nov. 23 and aired on the NFL Network. In 2008, the schedule started three weeks earlier. 2012 was the first season in which 13 games would be played on Thursday — and every team would be required to play in one of those games.
Goodell, who also has been an advocate for an 18-game regular season, said repeatedly during the bounty investigation that the NFL had to come down hard on the Black and Gold in order to illustrate that the NFL is serious about player safety.
Give me a break. The league is serious about making bank and created a prime-time event during the work week to bring in prime-time dollars from advertisers. It's hypocritical for Goodell to say he advocates player safety when his actions seem motivated by greed.
Proponents of Thursday night games argue that professional football is a business that needs to make money and that players are well-compensated. For the commissioner to harp on player safety while creating an environment that disregards athletes' need to recuperate is a joke.
I felt a little better after taking Time's Web poll asking readers if Goodell was a good candidate for the annual honor — my vote was "NO WAY" — and finding 95 percent of voters agreed with me.
Roger Goodell is nobody's Person of the Year.