There’s just something about being a professional sports commissioner that makes a person eminently unlikable.
It seems that the general sentiment toward commissioners ranges from inoffensive but mildly annoying, (case in point the NBA’s Adam Silver), to reviled and most likely incompetent (the NHL’s Gary Bettman comes to mind).
The NFL’s Roger Goodell, however, has a tier unto himself.
It’s a genuine struggle to recall any sports commissioner being as universally despised as Goodell.
Even people who normally can’t agree on anything can find common ground in detesting Goodell. There are those who hate him because they believe he is tacitly approving the “blackballing” of free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick. There are others who despise him for allowing so many players to disrespect the national anthem by protesting during it.
That’s to say nothing of Goodell’s general incompetence when it comes to player discipline and investigations. Goodell handling a player’s disciplinary process is akin to a blind bull in a china shop.
All of that disdain for Goodell most publicly manifests itself at the NFL draft every year, where the chorus of boos directed at him reaches sonic boom-levels.
When Goodell jokingly asked the audience to boo even louder last year, they were all too happy to oblige.
Perhaps it was at that moment that Goodell realized, “Gosh, these people really don’t like me and it doesn’t seem like a joke,” because this year, he’s got a plan to keep the boo birds grounded.
According to ESPN, Goodell will open the NFL draft flanked by Dallas Cowboys legends. That list includes a pair of Hall of Famers and one guaranteed future Hall of Famer. Of note, the 2018 draft will take place at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, which is where the Cowboys play.
The Cowboys legends who Goodell will open the festivities with are former quarterbacks Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman, as well as current Cowboys tight end and possible ageless mutant Jason Witten.
Few figures are more iconic, more entrenched in Cowboys lore and, importantly, more loved by Cowboys fans than Staubach, Aikman and Witten.
Staubach, 76, thinks that the fans in attendance will actually cheer Goodell thanks to the presence of the Cowboys stars.
“I’m sure he’s going to get a good response with us being out there,” Staubach said. “If they boo, all of us are in trouble.”
It’ll certainly be interesting to watch Cowboys fans struggle to decide between their love for past legends and their hatred of the current NFL commissioner. After all, Goodell’s polarizing crusade against Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott left a sour taste in fans’ mouths. Many fans blame Goodell for the Cowboys missing the playoffs after the team went 3-3 in their six games without Elliott. The Cowboys finished the season 9-7.
Things are even more awkward when considering how troublesome Cowboys owner Jerry Jones made Goodell’s contract negotiations last season.
The NFL draft starts at 8 p.m. ET and will be simulcast on Fox, ESPN and the NFL Network.
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