A group of 17 NFL owners held a clandestine conference call on Thursday to discuss the possibility of not renewing Roger Goodell’s contract as commissioner of the league, ESPN is reporting.
The league is in pretty tough shape these days: No one seems sure how to handle the ongoing player protests, TV ratings continue to decline, disciplinary issues continue to be mishandled and the relocation of two teams to Los Angeles has been messy, to say the least.
“You don’t get to have this many messes over the years like Roger has had and survive it,” one owner who was on the call told ESPN.
The Cowboys’ Jerry Jones, one of the NFL’s most influential owners, was among the leaders on the call, and not all 32 owners were invited. The Falcons’ Arthur Blank, a Goodell supporter and chairmen of the committee that decides the commissioner’s compensation, was among those not invited.
If it’s, in fact, the intention of some owners to oust Goodell, that’s not an easy thing to do. It would take 24 owners to approve the removal of Goodell.
There’s precedent, however. In 1992, MLB owners forced out commissioner Fay Vincent and replaced him with Bud Selig with an 18-9 vote.
Goodell’s extension was supposed to be put to bed two months ago.
“Maybe Arthur (Blank) and that committee think they’re on track,” an owner said about Goodell’s potential extension. “But they have a lot more resistance than they counted on – and maybe they don’t know how the resistance is growing as we speak.”
There’s a sentiment that the NFL lacks leadership and vision and that the league is primarily concerned with reacting to the headlines of the day, rather than mapping out a long-term plan. That’s not a winning formula.
While there’s no second meeting among the dissenting owners planned, one owner on Thursday’s call said the discussion will move forward.
“We’re not on the edge of destruction,” the owner said. “It’s an opportunity. It creates real energy and it creates a great opportunity to get our leadership right going forward. You watch. We will come out of this as a stronger league and our popularity will come back and increase.”
For Roger Goodell, those are ominous words.