Roger Goodell will come to New Orleans as a villain, as is the primary job of all commissioners these days. He does so knowing that, because he is the one who dropped the hammer on the Wild West show that was the Saints' BountyGate program, he derailed the local team's recent run of greatness.
In other words, he was handed a box full of smoking guns by the Saints, acted on them by punishing the team from the bottom up (the standard commissioner's m.o.) and interrupted a three-year run of double-digit wins.
And the fans will remember that. They will almost certainly forget what he did to rush, blackjack and cajole the rebuilding of the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina, and for more on this, Les Carpenter's excellent piecein Yahoo.com is a valuable resource.
But it is Goodell's role to be the bad guy, because like Gary Bettman, David Stern and Bud Selig, it is what he is paid to be. Largely this is the effect of his role as a management representative in the recent lockout, as it becomes increasingly obvious to even the most obtuse of us that he functions as the owners' sergeant-at-arms.
And not only is there no honor in that, there is considerable contempt. It has been instrumental in turning him from the most likable (or least detestable, depending on your position) commissioner with the best public image to just another guy in a suit who works for the rich ones.
All commissioners have been that throughout time, of course. It is a role that plays at real power while being paid only by one side, thereby making it a position of actual subservience. The commissioner as honest broker is a laughable myth, and Goodell's early work on reforming player behavior turns out in hindsight just to be more evidence of that.
Goodell returns to New Orleans a villain
CSN Washington | Jan 23