On Tuesday, Don Van Natta Jr. of ESPN's Outside the Lines published an incredibly revealing editorial on Roger Goodell and the ins and outs of his reign as NFL Commissioner. And although Natta Jr. never met with Goodell one-on-one for this piece, he did sit down with a number insiders who have direct knowledge of not only Goodell's operations, but his personal thoughts.
Amidst this lengthy expose were some very concerning comments about Goodell's line of thinking; namely about a potential death on the football field and not what it would mean for the player and his family, but the negative impact it would have on the game itself.
"One of his greatest fears: An NFL player is going to die on the field," says a Hall of Fame player who speaks regularly with Goodell. "Within the past year, Goodell has told friends privately that he believes if the game's hard-knocks culture doesn't change, it could happen again (Lions receiver Chuck Hughes died of a heart attack in a 1971 game). 'He's terrified of it. It wouldn't just be a tragedy. It would be awfully bad for business.' "
Of course, Goodell also wants the league's annual revenue to exceed $25 billion by 2027, and one way he's set out about doing that is attempting to increase the number of regular season to 16. Hardly something that would be considered "safe" for the players.
Almost immediately following the the release of this report, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello shot down the notion that Goodell's concern would come from a business standpoint.
“I don’t know anyone who’s ever heard him say that,” Aiello told the New York Daily News. “I’ve worked closely with him for 24 years and have never heard him say such a thing. Beware of anonymous sources.”
Thus far there has been no denial from Goodell, although it's almost certainly on the horizon.
Also…Football, John Mara, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Roger Goodell