US POLITICS

Roger Goodell Says Trump’s Kaepernick Take Is ‘Fine’

Way to stand up for the players, boss

US POLITICS
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Mar 24, 2017 at 11:05 AM ET

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has undertaken a small publicity tour of late, publishing an open letter to the fans in which he promised that he and all the great minds in the league office are doing everything in their power to pick up the pace of the game. One measure he’s promising is to cut down on that pesky touchdown-TV commercial-extra point-TV commercial- kickoff-TV commercial sequence that brings the action to a shuddering halt, by eliminating the one ad that drops after possession changes. Really bold stuff, Rog.

He also sat down with USA Today for an exclusive interview where he repeated much of the above, while promising that the NFL “will be loosening up the celebration rules to allow the players a little more expression of their enthusiasm.” Players will also get to watch what’s sure to be a deadly boring and yet unintentionally hilarious workplace instructional video.

At no point during this media blitz did Goodell mention that teams are passing out Toradol like they’re Tic Tacs, the increasing number of players whose lives have been rent asunder after years of traumatic brain injuries, the bilking of municipalities to pay for stadiums, or any of the actual issues plaguing pro football, because that’s not his job.

His job is to be the This Is Fine meme. On Thursday, during an appearance on ESPN’s “Mike & Mike,” he was asked what his thoughts were about President Donald Trump’s (false) assertion that he and the fear of a half-baked tweet was the reason no team has signed Colin Kaepernick.

“That’s a comment that he’s going to make and that’s fine,” Goodell said.

It’s fine. This is fine. The president offered his opinion about sports, as one does, more or less announcing that he will put his tiny little thumb on the scales if Kaepernick does land a paying job, thus reinforcing whatever weird political calculations are being made as to whether Kaepernick might prove a “distraction.” For Roger Goodell, it’s fine.

You might think that the job of commissioner, in addition to hammering out broadcast contracts and futzing with the already Talmudic NFL rulebook, is to protect the interests of on-field employees, even one that remains a free agent. The most generous interpretation here is that Goodell didn’t want to give this nothingburger of an issue any more oxygen than it deserves, but there’s a way to accomplish that without coming across as a kowtowing toady. Then again a commissioner who could square that circle wouldn’t be named Roger Goodell.

He then tried to debunk the idea that Kaepernick is being blackballed. (Transcript via Pro Football Talk)

“Our teams are out there working hard to figure out how they can improve each of their clubs,” the commissioner said. “They’re making the best decisions they can. And they’re going to do what they can to improve their teams and win. That’s what they want to do for the fans. So that’s what they’re focused on and that’s what we’re focused on. Everyone’s going to make other comments, and obviously we’re respectful of those comments, particularly from the president.”

In an unrelated story, the Chicago Bears have signed Mark Sanchez to back up Mike Glennon.