Roger Goodell’s Pyrrhic Victory Leads To His Cornelian Dilemma


Big terms and salacious headlines to pull them in.

In laymen terms, Roger Goodell is screwed.

Let me back up.

Roger Goodell is the Commissioner of the National Football League (NFL). He took over for Paul Tagliabue and…“The N.F.L.’s annual revenue has nearly tripled, to about $14 billion, since he took over as commissioner in 2006, and the average value of franchises has more than doubled, to $2.3 billion,” according to Forbes.

To sum, Roger Goodell is crushing it. The American public loves their Sunday football (and Thursday, and Monday and Europe) and the owners love him. And that is the only thing that matters. It is said his contract is expected to be renewed through 2024. I will say his re-election is a non-issue; a done deal.

What is a Pyrrhic victory?

It is essentially when you win the battle but you have inflicted such heavy losses on yourself, and thus exposed yourself or made yourself vulnerable, that it is only a matter of time before you will be defeated.

What is a Cornelian dilemma?

It is a dilemma in which someone is obliged to choose between two courses of action either of which will have a detrimental effect on themselves or on someone near to them. In classical drama, this will typically involve the protagonist experiencing an inner conflict that forces them to choose between love and honour or inclination and duty.

It is what is going on inside of Roger Goodell’s medulla. He knows it, but he can’t get off and stop the train.

Now, Roger Goodell is definitely not crushing it with the players and America’s parents, who hold the future of the NFL in their proverbial minds.

I will grossly paraphrase now. Football, and many other sports, can cause concussions. The “causal” relationship is two forces running full speed into each other play after play after play. For lineman, the distance and speed is shorter and slower, but far more constant. For everyone else on the field, it is faster and more violent, if less constant.

Why now?

Like anything else, the players got better over time. I assume, the players of the forties and fifties experienced less problems later in life because the players of those years were not as polished athletes as the players of today. Sid Luckman, YA Title, Bronko Nagurski, probably lived long lives and died of old age. The players of today are larger, faster and better athletes than former players, and former players are now having alarming issues younger and younger.

If guys like Mike Webster, who was the focal point of the movie “Concussion,” starring Will Smith, started experiencing this at a young age, it is because the 70s and 80s was when the true transition started happening. Jim McMahon, Tony Dorsett, and the slew of lesser known players currently experiencing the effects of their playing days shows how, while the athletes got better, the effects of their playing days started appearing younger and younger. I suspect, we will see these early onset maladies to skew even younger in the next ten years and I credit the players who have foresaw this and headed into early retirement at the beginning and/or middle of their careers, as if to say, “I ain’t gonna die for this.” The now famous remark of Martellus Bennett of the Green Bay Packers; although as of the writing of this, he is still playing.

Goodell is also not winning with parents. I think most parents see the causal nexus of playing football and concussions, especially at an early age. In my home town, the youngest team in our football club is now only thirteen boys. Eleven players play at a time. Our town has sent the message to “football.”

I love football. I played from sixth grade through my senior year of high school where I was the starting quarterback and captain of my team. I remember being hit so hard, hitting the ground, and seeing birds. Literally, like in the cartoons, I saw birds circling around my head. I got up, went back to the huddle and called the next play.

It is real.

For the attorneys and doctors of the NFL to say there is no causal link is, in my mind, criminal.

But, I get it. It’s a billion dollar business in a pastime America loves.

I gotta go… my fantasy draft is tonight.


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