NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has been a despised adversary in the eyes of Patriots Nation for quite some time, but he’s right about the draft.
Roger Goodell has arguably been the biggest enemy of the New England Patriots for the past two decades.
Sure, there was a time when that onus might have fallen on Peyton Manning, Bernard Pollard, Eric Mangini, the Indianapolis Colts, the Baltimore Ravens, the New York Jets, the Miami Dolphins, or the Denver Broncos.
A compelling argument could also be made that Father Time is Public Enemy No. 1 up in Foxborough, thanks to Tom Brady’s recent departure from the team (presumably, Bill Belichick decided Brady was finally old enough to be expendable).
But realistically, when you take into account all the Spygate nonsense — not to mention Spygate 2.0 this past season — the pendulum starts to swing back towards the NFL offices when it comes to the one entity that really became a thorn in the side of the Patriots.
Then when you add in the Deflategate witch hunt and all the ensuing legal warfare between Brady and Goodell that followed, it’s readily apparent why ex-New England defensive coordinator Matt Patricia (and so many others) wore those Goodell “clown” shirts with the red nose on them.
Victory was sweet when the Pats won the 2016 season’s Super Bowl and Goodell had to stand up there and congratulate Brady, Belichick, and team owner Robert Kraft. It was particularly satisfying to witness that spectacle, knowing full-well the acrimony and history between all those respective parties at the beginning of that season.
Since that point, tensions have eased between Goodell and old buddy Kraft just a bit, but most Patriots fans still will never forget or forgive all the transgressions brought against their beloved franchise by the NFL commissioner and the league offices he represents.
This all being said and acknowledged as preface, Goodell is 100% in the right when it comes to his latest polarizing stance that has him at the center of a national news story.
In the midst of a global pandemic, the NFL has taken some criticism — as well as some love and support — from fans for its refusal to change several important dates and events during the offseason. Free agency continued as planned, and Goodell recently sent a league-wide memo out to his owners and general managers stating that the plan is for the draft to go on as planned in April.
Granted, adaptations have already occurred. The event will no longer be attended by hundreds of live fans in Las Vegas, and players and their families will not be brought up on stage. The entire ordeal is going to look and feel drastically different than it ever has before.
But according to ESPN, Goodell wants the show to go on nonetheless, because in his estimation, there’s no evidence that the national (and international) situation with coronavirus is going to get any better or make things any easier any time soon for the league.
"“Everyone recognizes that the public health conditions are highly uncertain and there is no assurance that we can select a different date and be confident that conditions will be significantly more favorable than they are today,” Goodell wrote in the memo. “I also believe that the Draft can serve a very positive purpose for our clubs, our fans and the country at large, and many of you have agreed.”"
Frankly, he’s right.
General managers have a right to be flummoxed about the lack of interaction they’re going to have during the pre-draft scouting process before they have to make their picks, of course. More than any other position, it’s the GM who takes criticism and faces uncertain job security when he makes poor decisions with his team’s draft.
But the world needs the NFL Draft right now. In the absence of Opening Day in baseball (the start to the season is indefinitely suspended), we need the draft. With March Madness canceled altogether, we need this event. With both the NHL and the NBA put on indefinite hiatus and their seasons hanging in the balance, we need the NFL Draft.
Free agency kept many sports fans entertained in the midst of a sports world without any real action or news. Especially when most articles these days are dealing with the COVID-19 virus and its impact on athletes and leagues, it’s important to try and have relevant sports events and news go on as planned — even if they need to be modified to make them safe.
All of this is to say that Roger Goodell is actually, surprisingly, in the right when it comes to his latest controversial stance. And as much as it may pain Patriots fans to give this old arch-nemesis his due on the matter, it’s the right decision all the same.