Is This the NFL’s Next Commissioner?
It seems clear that Roger Goodell is finished as commissioner of the NFL.
His silence on the arrests of NFL players Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy, Ray McDonald and Jonathan Dwyer has been deafening. The man Time once dubbed “The Enforcer” is persona non grata since his fumbling of the Ray Rice case.
The public relations impotency of the once-heralded Goodell has forced owners to do something they hate to do – talk to the fans about team problems. That’s what the commissioner is supposed to be for. He is a useful mouthpiece when things are bad.
The NFL investigation of the Ray Rice debacle is a formality. Roger Goodell will be fired or he will resign, not because he didn’t take domestic abuse seriously, but because he hurt the NFL brand and almost cost the league billions in endorsements.
So who is in line to replace Goodell when he is kicked to the curb?
One name that is being bandied about is very familiar to Eagles’ fans. Troy Vincent, former Eagles All-Pro cornerback, was named the NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations earlier this year. At that time, Mike Florio of NBC Sports wrote that Vincent was being groomed to replace Goodell.
Vincent would be a wise choice, the first African American and the first former player to hold the title. Other names you will hear in the coming weeks include Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots; Gregg Levy, counsel to the NFL, who finished second to Goodell in 2006; and Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney who is credited with saving the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Instead of hiring Mitt Romney, let me suggest that league leaders learn from him and get their own “binder full of women” as potential candidates to run the league.
During the current spate of NFL domestic abuse cases, we have heard over and over again about the 45 percent female fan base that the league is afraid to lose. What better way to appeal to the women football fans than to make a woman the new face of the NFL?
The most obvious name in any binder would be Condoleezza Rice. NFL Commissioner is her dream job. However, her top credential could also be her biggest negative. As Secretary of State under George W. Bush, Rice was in the lead in selling the Iraq War to the world. The NFL owners probably want to avoid any hint of controversy in making the choice.
Which may lead them to women who have NFL executive experience, like Amy Trask, football analysts for CBS Sports and former CEO of the Oakland Raiders; Katie Blackburn, executive vice president of the Cincinnati Bengals; or Rita LeBlanc, vice chairman of the board of the New Orleans Saints.
If the NFL decided to go outside the league and find a former CEO who is good with the media, again, the binder is full. Carol Bartz, the former CEO of Yahoo and Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard would have to be at the top of the list.
Naming a woman as commissioner of the NFL would not only be a bold move, it would be the right move. It not only wipes away past domestic abuse controversies, but it helps assure that future such controversies will be handled properly.
To put it simply, making a qualified woman the new face of NFL executives in this climate is a no brainer. However, given the league’s recent track record, I don’t hold out much hope that they will do the right thing.
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