NEW YORK — As Roger Goodell heads into his second decade as NFL commissioner, the challenges won’t diminish. Nor, likely, will the compensation, which was $69 million for 2013 and 2014 combined.
Some things to look for under Goodell’s continuing regime:
LABOR DISCORD: Yes, the collective bargaining agreement will last another five seasons. It’s guaranteed that the NFL Players Association will be confronting and disputing the commissioner on nearly every issue.
So look for more court cases, particularly involving player conduct and suspensions. Watch for the union to continue seeking to reopen the CBA before it expires after the 2020 season.
DIGITAL FOCUS: Goodell always has been enamored of football’s possibilities in the digital world. He’s aggressively pushed for the league to have a presence everywhere, and soon live streaming of all games will happen. And considering the interest in every contest, whether from bettors, fantasy players or old-school fans, pro football will have a place on every digital platform created through the years.
“During Roger’s time as commissioner, cable, digital and international coverage of the NFL have reached new heights,” ESPN President John Skipper says. “All these efforts reflect Roger’s commitment to growing the game on new platforms and in new markets while ensuring the NFL has a strong future.”
INTERNATIONAL: The league won’t be backing off in bringing its product abroad. If the November game in Estadio Azteca is a sellout, Mexico City will get more. Brazil has shown interest in the Pro Bowl if not a regular-season game. England and Europe remain more than viable.
Goodell has championed virtually everything with an international flavor. He’d like to see an expansion team in London, and even a Super Bowl there is possible, although both of those don’t figure to happen in the next 10 years.
SHORTER PRESEASON, LONGER REGULAR SEASON: This one is very dicey because it seems to go against all player safety initiatives. But does it really if the NFL drops from four to two preseason matches and adds one to the regular schedule? With that added game at a neutral site, allowing the NFL to have more games abroad?
Goodell is a smart enough negotiator to realize the union would need lots of incentive to agree to this. A few more roster spots per team might be the tonic.
FRIDAY/SATURDAY NIGHTS: The high school and college seasons essentially end in early December. That leaves perhaps four weeks when, other than bowl games with little cachet, there’s not much to fill a football jones on TV. While NFL executive Brian Rolapp and CBS Sports President Sean McManus don’t see it happening, it’s another TV window that could open for the NFL during Goodell’s next 10 years.
HEAD TRAUMA: The one issue the NFL must solve is making a violent collision sport safe enough that parents will allow their kids to play it. Goodell recognizes this and figures to make sure some of those millions and millions of dollars flowing the league’s way gets spent on improved equipment, plus concussion research, identification, treatment, and, most important, prevention.