Posted: Tuesday August 8, 2006 6:51PM; Updated: Tuesday August 8, 2006 6:51PM
Roger Goodell has played a key role in NFL initiatives such as the NFL Network.
1. He was the candidate who represented the status quo option in the race for the commissionership, but that doesn't mean RogerGoodell's NFL career has been all about staying the course. People who know Goodell call him an "innovator,'' who has been at the forefront of many of the league's new initiatives in recent years. "He's a progressive thinker and he's always trying to move the league forward,'' said one high-ranking club executive. "He's not eager to have the league be in a status quo mode.''
Goodell has had a key role in the development of the NFL Network, the league's successful three-year-old TV venture that has become almost omnipresent overnight. He also had early involvement in the World League, which later was renamed NFL Europe and continues to be the league's attempt to internationalize America's most popular sport. More often than not, Goodell's energies have been directed toward areas that have grown the size of the NFL's pot, and enlarged revenues. Little wonder he garnered the votes of at least two-thirds of the club owners. He has made them all more than a little money through the years.
2. Unless you either work for the NFL, or cover the league for a living, you probably haven't seen much of Goodell's face. But that's about to change, because he's going to be around for a long while. The commissionership isn't a lifetime appointment like the Supreme Court or the Papacy, but at 47, Goodell has a chance to serve a very long time in the highest profile executive position in American sports.
His two predecessors, Pete Rozelle and Paul Tagliabue, lasted 29 and 17 years, respectively, and both left on their own terms. If Goodell does good work for the league and finds the favor of NFL owners, his tenure could approach 20 years.
3. Joe Browne, the league's executive vice president of Communications and Public Affairs, has been the league official who worked closest with Tagliabue on a daily basis throughout the commissioner's tenure, and the two can appear to be joined at the hip at league owners meetings and other NFL events.
But in Goodell's coming administration, sources say the role of right-hand man to the commissioner should eventually pass to Greg Aiello, currently the league's V.P. of Public Relations. Aiello and Goodell are close in age and have a strong working relationship. Look for Aiello's star to rise.
4. Those who know Goodell best describe him as serious of demeanor, with a bountiful supply of determination and drive. In some ways, he has been working and preparing for this day for the past 25 years or so, in that he has always shown a propensity for knowing something about everything that falls under the vast NFL umbrella.
Stylistically he's going to fall much closer to the lawyerly Tagliabue than to the glib and accessible approach that worked so well for Rozelle, the former public relations man. But while very intelligent, Goodell also doesn't feel the need to take over the room and wow everyone with his intellect and grasp of the facts, as Tagliabue sometimes was inclined to do. He's a good listener, and yet seems to have a good sense for when to cut off debate and make a decision.
5. Leadership isn't exactly foreign to Goodell, whose father, Charles, was both a U.S. Representative and Senator from New York, serving nine years in the House, and two-plus years in the Senate. Goodell, a Republican, owed his stint in the Senate to New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, who appointed him to the position in September 1968 after New York SenatorRobert F. Kennedy was assassinated that summer in Los Angeles. Charles Goodell failed to win his own election to the Senate in 1970, and returned to practicing law in Washington, D.C.