Since taking over for Paul Tagliabue in 2006, Roger Goodell has quickly become public enemy number one for most football fans. Whether it was his initially strict conduct policy that has faded in intensity over time, his mishandling of the New England Patriots' "Spygate" scandal, or the NFL lockout in 2011, Goodell has not been on good terms from the start.
Like him or not, he's the best commissioner out of the four major American sports. Or should I say, three and a half major American sports. Talk about a sad state of affairs.
But really, who's a better commish for their respective league?
David Stern? Ha! Since becoming the commissioner in 1984, Stern oversaw four lockouts of which two resulted in shortened seasons. He's also been accused of fixing the 1985 draft lottery by bending a corner of the New York Knicks' envelope before throwing it into the tumbler. Unsurprisingly the Knicks ended up with the number one pick.
Stern also led during the infamous Tim Donaghy scandal which revealed through an FBI investigation that the former referee was betting on games to affect the spread. Donaghy would later file a report stating that the league was in on the fix, reprimanding referees for calling technical fouls on certain players.
Lest we forget the recent suspension of the San Antonio Spurs for not playing their best players at the end of a six game road trip. Or what about the brawl in Detroit and the mandatory dress code for athletes?
Stern may be a bad commissioner, but he is a god compared to Bud Selig.
The commish of Major League Baseball has only seen one player strike since coming into office in 1992. However, that strike led to the cancellation of the World Series for the first time since 1904, and the subsequent relocation of the Montreal Expos after their team was dismantled in the mid-90s. While baseball has enjoyed lockout-free baseball since '94, it's been at the expense of having a commissioner with little power. Selig tried instituting a salary cap in the 90's but failed when he went up against Donald Fehr. Yes, that Donald Fehr.
Now, Selig is a puppet for MLB's owners with each new CBA finding a way to crush small market teams. Salary cap? Only in the amateur draft where small market teams can acquire star players before shipping them off to the big boys in free agency. Thanks to Bud, the league caps amateur spending while free agent spending continues to run rampant. Apparently it's OK to give Angel Pagan a ten million dollar per year contract but not Gerrit Cole.
Worse than the '94 strike was the steroid scandal in the 90's. While the steroid problem originated in the 80's, Selig and the rest of baseball turned a blind eye. Why? Because the league was going through a recovery. Fans were coming back to the park to see Sammy Sosa, Mark Mcgwire, and Barry Bonds slug it out. It helped baseball's financial terms in the 90's but tarnished the league's reputation in the process. At one point, the owners voted to keep Selig in office because they simply could not find anyone better to replace him.
And then there's Gary Bettman; the worst of the worst.
Four lockouts in a span of 20 years including one season cancellation and another on the horizon has the league teetering on the brink of extinction. Hockey fell out of the public's interest after the 2004-2005 lockout and just when the NHL started to make a comeback, the league went into more stagnation.
A big issue in the current lockout is the lack of profit from the teams. In 2011, only three teams saw positive returns in hockey revenue. That stems from a revenue sharing system that is bleeding itself dry due to a lack of interest in the southern markets. It was Bettman's idea to expand the league in the early 2000's. Thus, the Phoenix Coyotes, Atlanta Thrashers and Nashville Predators were born while the Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars continued to struggle. In it's current state, the NHL is so unstable that there is continued labor unrest. Maybe the only positive from the lockout will be a contraction of some of the teams.
So as you can see, Roger Goodell, through all of his faults, inconsistencies and favoritism of certain teams (according to you conspiracy theorists out there), it appears he wins the award for being the best of the bad commissioners.