Blast Off

FAKE DEATHS, TRI­ALS BY IN­STA­GRAM AND KNUCKLEHEADED CA­REER MOVES HAVE MADE THIS AN NFL OFF-SEA­SON ONE TO RE­MEM­BER. THESE CRAZY STORY LINE SHAVE SET UP ANOTHER WEIRD AND WON­DER­FUL SEA­SON AHEAD ON THE GRID­IRON.

Inside Sport - - CONTENTS - BY RICK WE­BER

The NFL re­turns, with more Aussies but less Jar­ryd Hayne! Plus: why col­lege foot­ball is be†er than pro.

For

a bloke who sup­pos­edly had died, Roger Good­ell is, well, sur­pris­ingly alive. He doesn’t sim­ply have a pulse – he has a per­son­al­ity.

On June 7, the NFL’s Twit­ter feed con­tained a shock­ing snip­pet of break­ing news: “We re­gret to in­form our fans that our com­mis­sioner, Roger Good­ell, has passed away. He was 57. #RIP.”

A hacker group called Peg­gle Crew claimed this bit of ge­nius, and it took Res­ur­rected Roger only a few hours to post a proof-of-life photo and a pithy, un-Roger­like re­sponse on his own Twit­ter ac­count: “Man, you leave the office for 1 day of golf w/ @JimKelly1212 & your own net­work kills you off. #harsh.” He was prob­a­bly smil­ing when the NFL told him that his Wikipedia page was briefly changed to an­nounce that his cause of death was “de­flated lungs”.

Re­con­fig­ured Roger car­ried his new per­sona to the NFL Draft in Chicago, where he was vo­cif­er­ously booed every time he took the stage. By the time the fourth round started on the third day, he ap­peared to have be­come a WWE car­i­ca­ture – laugh­ing, wav­ing his arms above his head and shout­ing, “C’mon, bring it on! There you go! There you go!”

And why not? Rich Roger has raked in com­pen­sa­tion to­talling US$180 mil­lion since 2005, and had a salary of $34 mil­lion in 2014 – the last year for which his salary will be pub­lic, now that the NFL has for­feited its tax-ex­empt sta­tus.

And the league has never been health­ier from a fi­nan­cial stand­point. It’s a $10bil­lion-a-year mono­lith, and if Good­ell’s pro­jec­tions are cor­rect, that num­ber will be $25 bil­lion by 2025. Each of the 32 teams will get $226.4 mil­lion apiece this year sim­ply for ex­ist­ing, courtesy of $7.2 bil­lion in tele­vi­sion rev­enue, up from $3 bil­lion in 2010.

There doesn’t ap­pear to be any­thing he could pos­si­bly do to mess that up, be­cause the pub­lic’s thirst for the NFL is in­sa­tiable. He’s been do­ing a lousy job of pro­tect­ing The Shield, as the league refers to it, but it doesn’t mat­ter. If the NFL was an or­ches­tra, it wouldn’t need a con­duc­tor, and it could play Beethoven’s Sym­phony No.9 with ka­zoos and trash-can lids.

He seems to un­der­stand that. Asked in the midst of a scathing con­cus­sion de­bate about the dangers in­her­ent to the game of foot­ball, Re­cal­ci­trant Roger blurted out, “There’s risk in ev­ery­thing. There’s risk in sit­ting on the couch.”

In May, the US Congress is­sued a 91-page re­port that says the NFL re­neged on $16 mil­lion in fund­ing for a con­cus­sion study that will seek to di­ag­nose the con­di­tion Chronic Trau­matic En­cephalopa­thy (CTE) in liv­ing pa­tients.

It got worse on July 1 when a fed­eral judge de­nied a mo­tion to dis­miss a law­suit filed by more than 1500 ex-play­ers, al­leg­ing that all 32 NFL teams il­le­gally ob­tained painkillers and in­ten­tion­ally ped­dled them to play­ers with­out ex­plain­ing the po­ten­tial side ef­fects – all in the name of ex­pe­dit­ing their re­turn to the field and gen­er­at­ing more profit. The dis­cov­ery phase of the trial will be­gin, and the dis­cov­er­ies are likely to paint the NFL in a very bad light.

Will Re­doubtable Roger main­tain his un­daunted ex­te­rior in the face of un­re­lent­ing crit­i­cism? That’s one of the many com­pelling sto­ry­lines for the 2016 sea­son. How will it play out? Read on …

Roger Good­ell: un­liked, but has The Shield in gold-plated shape.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.