What the NFL Must Do Now
by Glenn Dickey
Sep 29, 2014

Those who have called for the replacement of Roger Goodell as NFL commissioner ignore one salient fact: The chief job of a league commissioner is to make money for the owners. Bud Selig was popular with baseball owners because he discovered new revenue streams for owners. Goodell has been popular with NFL owners because he has negotiated two contracts with the Players Association which have been very popular with owners.
The domestic violence issue which exploded with the videos of Ray Rice cold-cocking his then fiancée, now wife in an elevator blindsided the NFL. Neither Goodell nor the owners had ever given serious thought to this issue before. That’s been true of other leagues, too, but it’s more serious with the NFL because their players are much stronger than baseball or basketball players.
So, the NFL is struggling with this issue. The first thing Goodell should do is to establish league-wide guidelines for domestic violence and other crimes. It should not be left up to individual clubs. Former 49ers greats Steve Young and Jerry Rice have been among the former players who have urged that players accused of domestic violence be benched (though paid) until the issue is decided. Their former club has allowed defensive lineman Ray McDonald to play while his case is being reviewed with glacial speed by the San Jose police department.
The 49ers action, or lack of it, is neither surprising nor reprehensible. They want to win games and fill their new stadium. That’s exactly why the league should have rules in place for these situations. In this case, I agree with Young and Rice and their counterparts.
About three decades too late, the NFL is finally making serious moves to slow down the steroids abuse.
It has always amused me that many baseball fans and sanctimonious writers are vehemently opposed to those who “cheat” by using steroids, supposedly making a mockery of baseball statistics. That shows an ignorance of baseball history. I’ve written history books on both leagues and there are countless examples of cheating as normal procedure. Not to mention that the ball was deliberately “juiced” (that depends on how tightly the yarn around the bellis wound) in the ‘30s to encourage offense to try to bring fans back to ball parks during the Depression. Offensive statistics are off the charts in those years, which resulted in some undeserving players making the Hall of Fame.
In baseball, though, there is little direct contact between players. Perhaps steroids help a pitcher throw 100 mph fast balls but his job is not to throw them at hitters.
Football, as one time coach Duffy Daugherty once explained, is a collision sport. Players run into each other on every play. Thus, players take steroids to get stronger.
This has been true for three decades – and it hasn’t been a secret. It was in the ‘80s when the term “’roids rage”, meaning a person whose temper was out of control because of steroids, came into common use. But I believe it’s become much more commonplace in the last decade. Now, we’re seeing 350-pound linemen who are totally buff and 275-pound linebackers who can run nearly as fast as wide receivers. You don’t have to look into their medicine cabinets to know why.
The NFL has had only four-game suspension, the same as for possession of marijuana (!), for the occasional player who has tested positive for steroids. Now, they’re finally attempting to monitor steroids use closely, which can only help.
It’s all a matter of self interest, of course, because the NFL is already paying off lawsuits from former players and, with the discovery of more head injuries because of concussion, will be facing even more legal action in the near future.
The NFL has led a charmed life since it became the nation’s most popular sport in the late ‘50s. Now, the league and its embattled commissioner have to play catch up.

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