“Here’s How It’s Done, Your Honor”


The deliriously juicy Gronk-spike of Roger Goodell by Judge Berman, has left me like an exhausted kid at Christmas, trying to play with all his toys at once.

The tsunami of opinion pieces is like a Ceasar’s Palace buffet. I know I’m already full, but I can’t stop eating.

Here’s a particular dish I recommend from the All-You-Can-Eat Schadenfreude Corral. It’s by SI.com’s Doug Farrar. You should read it all, but here’s the money passage.

Goodell, as is his wont, was never interested in fairness. He was interested in admittance and capitulation. The NFL would only settle with Brady if Brady admitted guilt in a case that did not compel him to do so. Basically, Goodell took the NFL’s interior standard of discipline to an actual court of law, and he rightly got slammed as a result. Sadly, he probably doesn’t understand why.

There are those who will say that Goodell is safe in his position, no matter how many legal embarrassments the league suffers under his tenure. There are those who will insist that Goodell is simply a public punching bag who acts at the owners’ behest, and as long as he plays the fall guy, the losses don’t matter. Both arguments seem especially short-sighted to me. It’s clear that Goodell acts at his own behest, and that his priorities are centered more on flexing authority than adhering to a CBA that is already highly favorable to his side. It’s also clear that when he became commissioner in 2006, he had inherited a license to print money that had been built by men far more brilliant and far-sighted than he has ever been.

What we have now is the end of a useless exercise which cost millions of dollars, and man-hours, for no good result except that once again, the NFL has proven that under Goodell, it’s in completely over its own organizational head. Very quickly, the guilt or innocence of the defendant became a moot point, as it has been throughout Goodell’s tenure.

Brilliant stuff, Mr. Farrar. Now, if I can add a few thoughts of my own to the pile-on.

Jeff Pash and the league took Brady and Kessler lightly. This was, among other things, their fatal mistake. They were unprepared for a critical thinking judge and his sharp barbed questions. They forum-shopped for a rubber stamp, and were surprised when a competitive legal game broke out.

And for god’s sake, why did they let Goodell write that shitty appeal decision himself?

Slightly deflated footballs = PED violation. The fuck….?

I read where Pash has made like $24 million from the league in the last three years alone. Which is more than Andrew Luck has been paid in that same span.

He’s used to racking up mountains of billable hours from a league that dips its logo in gold to celebrate an anniversary, and then runs roughshod over the legal equivalent of the Washington Generals.

Shut down Tony Romo’s fantasy convention in Las Vegas with one hand, then shake down the city of Chicago for the draft with the other. Easy money. High five, let’s hit Morton’s!

Neither Goodell or his push-button panel of legal goons took the proper measure of Brady, the man. This was a guy with three massive income streams (his on field money, his endorsement money, and his super model wife’s) facing a punishment so severe that he had nothing to lose by going the distance.

And this meek voiced, barrell-chested dummy who has never drawn an adult paycheck outside of the NFL, has a fundamentally delusional sense of self-worth and necessity to the game.

They’ll be lining up to get Tom Brady’s autograph when he’s 80. If Goodell set up similar shop, the line would be around the block just to take a swing at him.

Incompetent clowns will always have a seat at Roger’s table, as long as they properly kiss his ass and tell him how wonderful he is. This is why VP level suits – many of whom played football themselves – can be in charge of game day operations, and yet still be unaware of basic game day facts: footballs deflate in the cold.

But at what point do the rest of the owners catch up with the lesson Kraft learned when Goodell double-crossed him?

“I acted in good faith and was optimistic that by taking the actions I took, the league would have what they wanted. I was willing to accept the harshest penalty in the history of the NFL for an alleged ball violation because I believed it would help exonerate Tom.

“I have often said, ‘If you want to get a deal done, sometimes you have to get the lawyers out of the room.’ I had hopes that Tom Brady’s appeal to the league would provide Roger Goodell the necessary explanation to overturn his suspension. Now, the league has taken the matter to court, which is a tactic that only a lawyer would recommend.”

Kraft, it needs to be noted, built a billion dollar diversified business empire as the son of a jewish dress maker in Boston’s Chinatown.

Goodell, was a silver spoon son of a US Senator, who leveraged his daddy’s name into an internship in the NFL at the age of 23.

He’s too stupid to share a cab with Kraft, much less a negotiating table.

Chances are, Goodell has learned nothing from this whole debacle and it will manifest itself plainly at the next big league controversy, which is surely coming.

The worst case scenario is that he has made a work-stoppage a near certainty when the current CBA finally expires. If the players union can hold strong to drain out just 3 or 4 regular season games, the financial bloodbath will finally have these owners attention. And they’ll have Roger’s insane jihads against the players as the agitant that finally stiffened the players spines.

Goodell’s days are numbered. Oh, it’s still a high number, I think. But it’s a number.

Let the countdown begin.

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Steve Czaban is a 25 year sports radio veteran, who hosts an afternoon drive show in Washington D.C. "Czabe" also writes and edits his own commentaries for www.czabe.com and other on-line and print publications. He can be reached at czabe@yahoo.com.


  1. In general, I support your well-reasoned analysis. It was a fun read, so well done. However I must take issue with this point:
    > I read where Pash has made like $24 million from the league in the last three years alone. Which is more than Andrew Luck has been paid in that same span.

    So what? Both are highly-valued occupations that take /years/ of commitment to accomplish and be very successful. Both organizations who hired them obviously feel strongly that they provide significant value. They are making what their respective organizations feel they are worth.

    Really enjoy the show.

  2. After reading Judge Berman”s opinion, it is clear that Goodell, Nash, Vincent, Wells and the entire Paul, Weiss Independent Investigator//Zealous Advocate for the Shield Team did not Know The Rules governing arbitraltions under the National Labor Relations Act, the Federal Arbitration Act, the federal decisions construing those laws or the leagues’ own body of rules, policies and arbitrall findings. The NFLPA was entitled to presume that the Commissioner and the Management Council and their Outside Counsel were at least Generaly Aware of the Rules. Sadly, despite any actual knowledge or general awareness they may have, their hubris and arrogance, borne of an addiction to absolute power, consistently impair their ability to seek justice as opposed to winning at all costs. Sadly, their cumulative efforts will inevitably lead to misplaced general criticism of the arbitration process, which in most cases functions quite smoothly, thanks to truly independent (note lack of scare quotes) arbitrators and competent judges who Know The Rules.

  3. Czabe:

    Hope that you read the story at ESPN today that provides quite a lot of background on the League’s treatment of the Patriots since Spygate: http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/13533995/split-nfl-new-england-patriots-apart. Assuming the reporting stands up–and, in a high-profile context like this, one hopes that ESPN has fact-checked it to death–this is a considerable piece.

    I don’t disagree with you that Roger Goodell appears to be a bit of a clown. All commissioners–all commissioners since Fay Vincent, at least–are stooges. But the piece suggests that, in Deflategate, Goodell has plainly been doing the bidding of a majority of the owners. And, based on what I read in the ESPN piece, I can’t say that I blame a majority of the owners for seeking a Patriots scalp. Conduct like what’s been reported puts the golden goose at risk–and it is a very, very, very fat goose indeed.

    Kraft is plainly very smart and equally shrewd. Goodell may or may not be his equal; we lionize captains of industry like Kraft for the fruits of effort that, as often as not, involve both deceit and luck in great measure. Whatever the case, all the evidence I’ve read suggests that Kraft has placed his considerable talents, and resources, at the mercy of a guy whose systematic disregard of anything like competitive integrity makes him a substantial risk in a business that hides behind an antitrust exemption. If the story is right, Kraft is not just poking Goodell in the eye, he’s poking his peers in the eye–some of whom (e.g., Paul Allen) could buy Bob Kraft from petty cash. Seems like a poor idea.


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