|Roger Goodell, relaxing at home after a hard day at work|
The funniest thing to come out of the replacement ref fiasco has not been any of the on-field stuff, hilarious as that has been. It has not been the overblown bloviating by the chattering classes, nor the hysterical overreactions on Twitter (some of which veered off into deeply ugly, hateful bullshit). No, it’s been those noted labor economists at places like ESPN trying to spin this thing so that Roger Goodell comes out of it as some kind of hero, or, failing that, a victim.
Look, anyone who thinks the lockout was about anything other than Goodell trying to punish the refs for standing up to him is delusional. The money involved is, in the grand scheme of things, minimal. Dan Snyder pisses away more than that trying to bully Washington free papers in a given weekend. No, this was about power and control, and nobody in the NFL has more of either than Roger Goodell. The guy is Sauron, the all-seeing eye dispatching Nazgul to swoop down and fine players unexpectedly for inappropriate towel lengths. You’re going to tell me that in the face of a labor dispute that threatens to undermine both the product the NFL puts on the field and, more importantly, its relationship with Vegas (anyone who doesn’t think the rise of the NFL isn’t directly attributable to a combo of gambling and fantasy sports is delusional), Roger Goodell was suddenly impotent, waiting on the command of those same owners he bullies and fines to cut a deal equivalent to a single game’s concessions take?
It was a power play. And for once, Goodell lost. Everything else is just spin.