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Now that Ginger-Tin-Ears (Roger Goodell) has managed to completely ruin a job that pays $44 million a year, the ever-vigilant I-wonder-what-will-move-the-story-forward-three-years media has seized upon a list of successors, and foremost among them is . . . wait for it . . .
Yes, that Condoleezza Rice. Politician, former cabinet secretary, educator, Stanford provost and the fastest-rising person in football. It’s clichéd thinking of the first order, but that’s what we do now – the simplest way to get from one story to the next while hoping the liquor holds out.
Why she has decided to bring the nation’s most popular game to her heel is something only she and her therapist truly know, but she is on record from years ago as saying she wants someday to be NFL Commissioner, and is therefore now considered a prime candidate by the Washington Post, TheHill.com, and Fox News, among other media arms.
Well, I’m here to tell you it’s an idiotic idea, and I will do it so convincingly that by the time this ends, even she will agree with me. We’re simpatico that way.
1. SHE WANTS THE JOB: That is never in and of itself a good idea, because among other things, that was Goodell’s MO as well before he went and turned it into the smoking ruin it is today. He had been on a roll of failures before the Ray Rice thing turned him into America’s new pantomime villain, but his inability to lie convincingly on CBS News when confronted by a string of facts that made lying impossible was . . . well, the final straw. Frankly, today, you wouldn’t believe him if he came and told you you were you. And then you’d kick him between the legs for even approaching you.
And Rice wants the job just as much as Goodell did. That’s a disqualifier on its face. This is a post that should be forced on someone, because that’s how much the job sucks now, and you want someone fully aware of how bad it is going in, not an ambitious face with rote approvals from inside the festering dungheap that is InsideTheBeltway.ecch.
2. THE JOB CAN’T BE WHAT GOODELL MADE IT: The NFL has blown the idea that the NFL can be in charge of disciplining its players, so there isn’t the fun of being king, or in Rice’s case, Galactic Omniscient Empress Plenipotentiary Of The North. The job needs to be decommissioned because power turns people stupid (and no, there will be no snide cracks about Rice’s employer before she got to Stanford, thank you very indeed) and Goodell is a smart man who decided lofty unthinking arrogance was a better career move.
The job now needs to be refashioned to be more like that of the Queen Of England – face, rainmaker, designated arm-waver, a plastic bobblehead who just stands and grins inanely and poses for pictures with kids and soldiers and other popular props of the day while deciding nothing of importance ever.
You know, like Paul Tagliabue.
Either that, or it needs to be supplied by both the owners and players union, because the owners are the ones who made Goodell Goodell, and they can no longer be trusted to open a can that was already open. The business now must be run transparently and openly for the benefit of more than the 32 rich white guys, because people trust football executives the same way they trust meth dealers. Except maybe Walter White, who they actually kind of liked for awhile.
Or maybe . . .
3. THERE’S NO GOOD REASON TO HAVE A COMMISSIONER AT ALL: Maybe the job has been devalued by Goodell to the point that a commissioner is a needless middleman between the owners, who hate being seen, and the rest of the world, who needs to see them more than ever now that they have shown how inherently untrustworthy they are.
If the job must be reduced to being a figurehead, Rice is overqualified. If the job is going to be reconfigured to mean hallway vote-wrangling to get one group of owners to convince another group of owners to agree to something that isn’t immediately in their self-interest, Rice has already done that in Washington and would be better off staying at Stanford. And if the job is to sell the game, frankly, I’d rather watch Tom Hanks do it. Or Morgan Freeman, or Matthew McConaughey, or Beyoncé, or Penn and Teller. They could sell a cat to a bird without even getting out of their cars.
4. SPENDING TIME WITH OWNERS MAKES YOU WANT TO PULL OFF YOUR OWN SKIN: Or to put it another way, no matter what you may think of Rice politically, there is no way imaginable that she did something so heinous that she should have to willingly talk with Danny Snyder.
Although, and this would be delicious, watching him explain the honor and nobility of the name “Redskins” to Rice, and to see that narrow-eyed look of nauseated “Wait until it’s my turn to talk, Giggles” she would wear in receipt of his message would be worth the price of a Beverly Hills mansion.
Or Beverly Hills, for that matter.
5. WHAT’S SHE DONE LATELY? She is on the college football playoff committee which has already seen one member, USC athletic director Pat Haden, run down to the field at Stanford Stadium to help his coach, Steve Sarkisian, berate a referee, only to say a day later a version of “I got it wrong.” And where have we heard that before?
But that’s not her fault. What IS her fault is the fact that she didn’t run down to the Stanford sideline to berate the officials on the next play just to let them know she was going to be way less pleasant to deal with Haden. After all, she’d dealt with Congress and fought off the toxins associated with that.
Or, in the alternative, to run down to the sidelines and kick head coach David Shaw in the hinder for his red zone play-calling. Either way, now that part of being a committee member is acting the fool, she’s already let SC get a leg up, and that’s not going to do at all.
6. AND FINALLY, GOODELL RUINED THE JOB: And let’s be honest here, the job is meant so that people can boo you. Gary Bettman goes to hockey games knowing that the best he can do is avoid being showered with cold beer and warmish fries. Bud Selig was declared past his sell-by date years ago. We’d have more to say on Adam Silver, but so far he’s only had the very enviable task of dealing with racist owners who were either (a) easy to force out or (b) want to be forced out.
Being a commissioner is now a job for those with a pathological need to be despised, or at the very least, accustomed to be attacked by audience members. In other words, if there must be a new commissioner of football (and let’s face it, the old one is a Federal disaster site in Cole-Haan shoes), it should be a comedian. Someone who is used to disarming hecklers and other naysayers and still delivering the goods. Thus, I would suggest:
LEWIS BLACK: Also a Jets fan, so may be clinically insane. Which in this case would not be a disqualifier but a positive boon.
KATHLEEN MADIGAN: Also a Rams fan, though I believe she could drink all 32 owners under the table without spilling a punch line.
DOUG STANHOPE: Also a Cardinals fan, or maybe he’s just been seen in pictures wearing Cardinal logo ankle socks. As a bonus, would literally scare the owners to death within five minutes of his best routine, which in and of itself would be a gift to the nation.
CHRIS ROCK: Not sure who his favorite team is, but is self-explanatory.
DAVE CHAPPELLE: Might wander off the job to regain his sanity from time to time, so absenteeism from the owners might be a problem.
CHARLIE BROOKER: British, and hates most sports, including soccer. The accent would class up the joint, and his withering assessments of his fellow humans would be well directed at the people who run the league now.
GREG PROOPS: Believe he is a 49ers fan, and the hipster glasses might be off-putting to Jerry Richardson.
OR ANY HARBAUGH: John and Jim have been sacrificed to the media by their respective bosses already and would take on the challenge because they are soldiers to the end. But if I had to take one, I’d take their mother Jackie. She’ll give you the motherly smile, but if you crossed her, she’d cheerfully gut you.
And right now, some good-natured gutting is just what we’re all in the mood for, damn it.