Roger Goodell is the most powerful league commissioner in American sports.
And this is regardless of the NFL's preeminence as America's favorite sport. Goodell in the short time he has been commissioner--< 4 years--has wielded tremendous clout within the league. Before becoming commissioner, he was heavily involved with the NFL realignment in 2002, which ecumenically balanced the league's divisions.
Once he was selected to succeed Paul Tagliabue, in 2006, Goodell has muscled and implemented his vision for the NFL with little failure or backlash. Consider for me if you will the new rules or policies Goodell adopted:
1. Goodell has instituted the strictest HGH/performance enhancing drug policy of all the four major American sports. Subsequently, he's backed up this rhetoric with substantial fines and suspensions for offending players (Michael Vick, Pacman Jones, Ben Rothlisberger).
2. Goodell was the force behind the NFL Network channel as well as muscling T.V. cable providers like Comcast who threatened to remove the Network from their packages because they were not getting "adequate" revenue. Comcast lost that trial and the NFL Network remains for even the lowest tiered cable packages.
4. Goodell wanted to change the Overtime Sudden Death rule for playoff games after the 2009 NFC Championship game and the NFL owners adopted the policy in 2010.
5. The Commissioner expressed support for the NY Giants and NY Jets to submit a Super Bowl bid for the 2014 League Title. He had the owners wave the 50 degree/F rule so that the New Meadowlands Stadium may compete for the bid, and New York/New Jersey was selected to host Super Bowl XLVIII in May 2010.
6. The Commissioner wanted to overhaul the regular season schedule by expanding it from 16 games to 18 and eliminating 2 preseason games. The League submitted an official proposal to the NFL Player's Association in June 2010 (while we may be at least 5 years away from an 18-game schedule, NFL executives, team owners, and players have all acknowledged off the record that an 18 game season is a reality. It is going to happen).
7. The NFL returning to the Los Angeles area seems more of a reality now than it did 5 years ago and if anyone doesn't think Goodell is working tirelessly behind the scenes to achieve this is woefully naive.
Last but not least, which thus brings me to the real meat-and-potatoes of this post: in an effort to "unify" and "modernize" the NFL postseason, Goodell set up a commission to revamp the playoff Logos and Trophy designs to better reflect the preeminence of the Super Bowl. This means that, for the first time since 1984, the George H. Halas and Lamar Hunt trophies will have a new design. He and the NFL contracted Tiffany & Co. to design these new trophies along with revamping the Playoff, Wildcard, and Divisional playoff round logos.
I'm not given in to defending anyone pro bono so reading this post as a defense of Goodell would be incorrect. I'm merely pointing out the Commish's clout vis-a-vis his accomplishments. Now the real test will be whether Goodell can steer the NFL and NFLPA away from a lockout for the 2011 season....