Thursday, March 22, 2012

Bettman, Selig could learn from Goodell

Whether or not you agree with the heavy-handedness of the fines and suspensions assessed by the NFL yesterday, there's no disputing the league's decisiveness and resolve. With team fines and individual salary forfeiture totalling millions of dollars and suspensions up to and including a full season for New Orleans head coach Sean Payton and a possible lifetime ban for former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was ruthlessly draconian in his response to a cash bounty system that rewarded Saints players for injuring opposing players.
By making everyone from the top down accountable, Goodell instantly changed the culture of pro football for the better, and in the process he made himself accountable by assuming the responsibility that comes with his position. He also provided a lesson in resolve for his comparatively indecisive hockey and baseball counterparts.
Gary Bettman has been vacillating for years on how to deal with excessive violence in hockey, and the best he's come up with is a policy for suspensions that's as inconsistently applied as it is half-baked. At least Bettman pays lip service to what ails his sport. Bud Selig actually looked the other way when chemically-enhanced baseball sluggers were setting artificial home run records, because he didn't want to derail the publicity and marketing gravy train.
If it hadn't already dawned on Bettman and Selig that the NFL isn't the most popular, successful and credible sports league in North America by accident, it should have yesterday, when the sanctions announced by Roger Goodell - though arguably unduly harsh - put the integrity of the sport ahead of everything else.

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