This year, the NFL has been losing. Television ratings are down (for a number of reasons), stars across the league are suffering season-ending injuries, concerns about head trauma and brain damage are increasing, and team owners are coming into conflict with their players. Football needs fixing, and Roger Goodell doesn’t seem to be up to the task. So, Ringer staffers suggested some candidates for commissioner who could give the NFL a much-needed shake-up.
Danny Heifetz: Iger, the CEO of Disney, has been contemplating retirement for years. Serving as the NFL commissioner would be the perfect retirement package. As the head of the parent company for ESPN, he already has a relationship with the league and would be in a … unique … position to be negotiating future television deals. He was also essential in clearing room for the NFL’s return to Los Angeles. The NFL might be loathe to bring in a power player rather than turning to an in-house executive, like NFL general counsel Jeff Pash, who was the lead negotiator for the 2011 collective bargaining agreement. But if Iger wants the job, it’s easy to see him getting it, though he may have his eyes on a bigger prize. He is considering running for president against Donald Trump in 2020 — perhaps the only person who has a lower approval rating than Goodell.
Danny Kelly: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is uniquely prepared to be the next commissioner of the NFL: He’s awesome and universally respected. He understands the game of football because of his days as a defensive tackle with the Miami Hurricanes. He understands the business of the sport from the player’s point of view because he plays a former NFL star turned financial manager on TV. And most important, his résumé as a world-champion wrestler and as the world’s highest-paid actor in 2016 means he’s more qualified than almost anyone in history to make the league more entertaining and compelling — so he’d make the league and its owners lots and lots of money.
Ryan O’Hanlon: As Kevin Clark wrote last week, the NFL’s deepest problem is that it has no idea what it’s like to lose. And, uh, yeah. I think the Democratic strategist’s book tour should be wrapping up right around when Roger Goodell’s current contract expires.
John Gonzalez: Only one person has managed to unite all 32 owners. They should give that man a job and pay him well for the effort.
A Player-Elected Commissioner
Michael Baumann: Expropriate the assets of all 32 owners and reconstitute the league as a workers’ collective, with a commissioner elected by the players.
Shaker Samman: The NFL is at a critical moment in its history. Entanglements in federal court and questions about the sustainability of a sport that levies significant damage to participants’ cerebral functioning have left its future in doubt. At a time like this, ingenuity is vital. And no one is a better choice to introduce creative solutions than Tom Brady. Earlier this year, Tom spread his wisdom, and the world took notice. Drinking water prevents sunburns. Sure! But never drink water during a meal. Fine! And milk is a last-resort beverage. OK! Are there better options to run the league than a man who spent months embroiled in legal battles against it? Absolutely. But how many of those other choices come with an endless supply of avocado ice cream?