Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Dumbest Thing You'll Read All Day

Note: Kissing Suzy Kolber, one of the best sports blogs on the Internets, posted a link to this piece (as you probably know since you probably clicked from the KSK in the first place). Thanks for reading the article, and please check out the rest of the blog.

ESPN.com columnist Ashley Fox is someone you've most likely never heard of. She's the kind of writer deep in the bowels of the ESPN website who describes herself on Twitter as someone who is missing her dog. Her 10,000 Twitter followers sort of make it clear that she isn't a popular writer, but she sure knows how to toe the company line.

Today, Fox wrote an article defending Roger Goodell for earning over $29 million last season. If you've ever wondered why we continuously bash the Worldwide Leader, here is a perfect example of their just awfulness. ESPN and the NFL have a nine-figure deal, so it isn't hard to see why they'd want to promote the NFL as much as possible. However, the veil on this article is like Mary-Kate Olsen thin (or some more recent celebrity).

Let's go through this piece of crap paragraph by paragraph.

No wonder Roger Goodell didn't mind working for one dollar during the National Football League's lockout of its players in 2011. He more than made up for it by the end of the year.

It is almost like this was an obvious bargaining ploy that easily duped/bedfellow journalists would eat up during a labor struggle.

Goodell's executive compensation package as commissioner of this country's most popular professional sports league is extravagant. Roddy White no doubt thinks it is outrageous. According to a tax return the league filed last week, in 2011 Goodell made $29.49 million, more than double the $11.6 million he made in 2010. It is a staggering number at first blush.

Don't worry, Goodell looks better on second blush. 

Obviously, there is no mention of why the NFL would be filing a tax return. It is because the NFL files taxes as a non-profit like Teach for America (credit to Deadspin).

According to ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell, Goodell made $3,117,000 in salary, $22,309,000 in bonuses and $3,993,000 in additional compensation.

Of course Darren Rovell is involved. Good job reading that tax return, Darren.

So Goodell was paid for his performance, just the way players prefer to be paid. Was it outrageous? Hardly, given the financial windfall that Goodell, who turned 54 on Tuesday, provided the NFL's 32 owners and the players. 

So to summarize, Goodell isn't on a guaranteed contract and can be cut at any time without any future money? Because I'm pretty sure that's how it works in the National Football League.

...Goodell got a new, 10-year collective bargaining agreement hammered out with the players, ending a four-month lockout before any real damage was done. No games were missed. Training camps were abbreviated but not canceled. There were preseason games and plenty of time for players to earn roster spots. Players did not lose a single game check.

It's true that the players didn't lose a single game check and got some help with less intense practices, but the pieces of the pie remained the same size. Goodell waited the players out, counting on the pockets of billionaires to be deeper than millionaires, a standard tactic in any labor negotiation (albeit it is typically on a much smaller scale). Luckily, he had glory-boy-hating ESPN portray him as the protagonist. So basically, no real damage was done.

Once labor peace was guaranteed for a decade, Goodell secured television contract extensions with ESPN, NBC, FOX, CBS and DirecTV that were unprecedented in their length and value. He kept the NFL's media partners in place and at a ridiculously high price that guarantees the owners and players will split $7 billion annually during the life of the deals.

Of course, while players were guaranteed money, there is also a salary cap. Even if there isn't a salary cap, Goodell will be sure to allow his bosses -- the owners -- to collude so that teams that, you know, actually spend more than the cap would get penalized.

Look at what the other major professional sports commissioners in this country make. David Stern reportedly earns $23 million as commissioner of the National Basketball Association. His league had a prolonged work stoppage a season ago and is nowhere near as profitable as the NFL, which made $9.5 billion in 2012. Bud Selig reportedly earns $22 million as commissioner of Major League Baseball.

Note the use of "reportedly" since these other leagues haven't disclosed their commissioners' salaries on a non-profit tax return. Additionally, Goodell's next good idea will be his first. Seriously, what has he given us? Games on NFL Network that no one can see? Thursday night football? If your legacy is coming to TV agreements when you have one of the highest-rated shows on television, you aren't exactly coming up with the Wild Card or making the NBA a global sport.

Hold the phones. I forgot that he moved the Pro Bowl to the Sunday between the Conference Champinoship games and the Super Bowl. My bad, guys.

Yes, Goodell has stumbled. His heavy-handed discipline for off-field infractions, fines for hard hits on the field and rules tweaks to benefit offensive players have made him unpopular with players.

I know this is the sort of even-handed tone that journalists are supposed to take, but calling his discipline heavy-handed is like calling Dane Cook kinda annoying. 

A USA Today poll released during the week of the Super Bowl found that 61 percent of players disapproved of Goodell's performance since he became commissioner in 2006.
That's going to happen. But the average player salary has steadily risen under Goodell; last season it was about $1.2 million.
Is it going to happen though? I'm pretty sure that while some NBA players dislike Stern and he certainly is a thug and bully, they at least have some faith that the league is in capable hands. 61% is incredibly high, but honestly I'm surprised it isn't higher. Players have routinely called out his "leadership" and practically every fan base has a legitimate beef with some arbitrary punishment he's doled out against someone on their team.
As for player salary increasing, Goodell, again, is basically getting credit for coming to TV agreements. The players are making more money not because they are being guided by a benevolent leader, but because the league is in hands capable of holding a steering wheel while a car goes straight.
Goodell's reputation took a hit with his handling of the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal.
Jesus fucking Christ.
Goodell also allowed replacement officials to work the first three weeks of last season. They were horrible, and he didn't really care until Seattle beat Green Bay on the "Fail Mary" that ended up costing the Packers a first-round bye in the playoffs. The games were compromised because the players had zero respect for the fill-in officials, many of whom were underqualified and not fit enough to handle the speed of the NFL game.
It is almost like ESPN told Fox to write something about how Goodell deserves his money, but then she couldn't honestly think of anything he'd done other than avoid a lockout and re-up with the networks. The Packers losing a first-round bye had a pretty big effect on the entire playoffs (I say as a biased Packers fan), but an owner who allows games to be "compromised" certainly deserves almost $30 million.
Calling the officials "underqualified and not fit enough to handle the speed of the NFL game" is like saying I'm not qualified to do brain surgery. Also, this reads like Fox is saying the refs are too fat to handle the speed of the NFL game, which doesn't really make any sense.
Many former players question Goodell's sincerity on player safety and supporting players in retirement. Goodell sounds good preaching about protecting players and instituting more thorough concussion testing and procedures, but many players think it is all talk. They believe Goodell is bracing for his toughest fight yet, when he will be the league's face in the ever-growing lawsuits by former players against the NFL.
...[Checks the facts]... Yup, it is all just talk. But it sounds good when his fat fuck face Ginger lips say it! Goodell bracing for his toughest fight is a great euphemism for paying lip service to safety to insulate yourself in future suits while advocating an 18-game season and making players play on Thursdays. If only players learned how to launch their bodies at full speed with almost no reaction time safely!
Goodell will really earn his money then.
Glad this is settled.
...To players who sacrifice their bodies and futures for a game that pays them handsomely, it might seem blasphemous that the league's top executive makes more than the top player. But they should remember this: The more money Goodell makes the league, the more money the players will make. It goes hand in hand. Goodell is getting rich, but so is everybody else.
Ah, now I remember correlation does equal causation. Note the subtle jab at players for complaining when they make plenty of money themselves. This is a common defense when a labor union tries to get what it deserves as the talent. 
The owners have every right to pay Goodell as much as they want, and $920k per team is basically like paying your punter, but it is beyond ridiculous to say that because there isn't a lockout and the games are on TV, the league is in competent and talented hands.
As always, ESPN is the worst.

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