Originally Published: September 27, 2012 12:22 p.m.
The real referees are back for tonight's Browns-Ravens NFL game, and there is certainly joy in Mudville.
The whole sordid affair gave us a particular insight into Roger Goodell's NFL. The settled referee lockout - perhaps more than anything in Goodell's tenure as chief of the world's most lucrative sport - begs to define what is actually good for the NFL.
Bottom-line revenue streams? If you ask the owners, it's the only unanimous vote you'll ever see. Revenue, and ways to expand its flow. Period.
Yet the NFL brands itself on image more than any other pro sport, as its roof-blowing ratings will attest. The league's image from 2006-2012, during Goodell's tenure, has been far from its shiniest even when it's been its greenest in terms of cash.
Earlier this year, 89 lawsuits from more than 2,400 former players were pending against the league for, what the veterans claim, was alleged withholding of medical-related concussion evidence. Reports show that scientists from the NFL's Mild Traumatic Brain Injury committee allegedly tried to have studies on concussion-related brain damage retracted because it disagreed with the findings. A rise in tragic NFL-related suicides, meanwhile, suggests otherwise.
Then there's the Goodell-led charge to expand the NFL brand overseas. As I've blogged in this space before, European expansion pads the league's annual revenue from its current $9 billion, but at the same time needlessly takes a home game away from an American NFL city which goes dark on a Sunday while London, for instance, lights up its city's glitz and profits. That's not cool any way you slice it.
And don't even get me started on London's reported interest to land a future Super Bowl. Goodell has publicly denied that the NFL is considering a Super Bowl across the pond, but the pool of those taking the commish at his word is drying up. As long as Goodell is commissioner, there will be a Super Bowl in London in the future.
Now this latest referee debacle. The whole circus was a bungled disgrace that did little more than support the NFL's growing position that what's good for the NFL is greed and nothing else, at whatever cost.
Going back to the original question - is that truly what is in the best interest of the NFL?
The ratings and revenue say yes. And that means that we all are saying yes, too.