August 8, 2006: Roger Goodell is chosen as the NFL’s next commissioner, succeeding Paul Tagliabue. Goodell was unanimously elected by the league’s 32 owners on the fifth ballot. He has been a polarizing figure, but most commissioners are. Goodell has navigated the NFL through Spygate, Bountygate and Deflategate, as well as high-profile player suspensions (including one right now), player safety concerns, and one lockout.
On Goodell’s plate right now is the case of Deshaun Watson, as the NFL seeks to suspend the Cleveland quarterback for far more than the six games handed down by the league’s independent disciplinary officers over the scores of accusations of sexual transgressions with massage therapists. In the forefront is the integrity of the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy established by Goodell in 2007 after numerous incidents of player misconduct.
Goodell, considered the most powerful man in sports, began his NFL administrative career as an intern in 1982 under then-commissioner Pete Rozelle. He served in a number of roles as he worked his way up through the league’s front office, rising to Vice President and Chief Executive Officer in 2001 under Tagliabue. September 1 will mark Goodell’s 16th anniversary as commissioner.
He has taken his share of criticism from all corners, but not as much as commissioners in other major sports (with the possible exception of Adam Silver in the NBA). Under Goodell, the NFL’s status as the wealthiest and most potent entity in sports has grown exponentially. It has the highest average attendance of any professional sports league in the world, as well as the most lucrative media contracts and the largest single event, the Super Bowl.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)