Why Roger Goodell Should Go Sit on a Pinecone

Things Roger Goodell claims to care about:

  1. Player safety
  2. The integrity of the game

Things Roger Goodell does to promote the things he claims to care about:

  1. Fine defensive players he thinks jeopardize the safety of a particular subset of offensive players (QBs, WRs)
  2. Fine/suspend players who he thinks engage in off-field actions that threaten the integrity of the game

Things these actions have in common:

  1. Taking money from players
  2. Exercising authority

Things that Roger Goodell has done to undermine the things he claims to care about:

  1. Drag his feet on player safety and failed to enact the type of changes that will truly address the issue.
  2. Failed to use their status as the pre-eminent football league to be a leader on player safety (they are currently being outpaced by college football and its wonderful new rule about dislodged helmets*)
  3. Schedule a Thursday night game nearly every week of the year, meaning more players are playing on short rest, a recipe for injury
  4. Refuse to expand active rosters, which would allow coaches to rotate players out more and ensure no one is playing severely out of position (e.g., In the Eagles week 2 tilt, they lost two offensive linemen to injury; had they lost a third, they would have had to put a non-offensive linemen in as their bench was depleted.  This would have increased the risk of injury greatly).
  5. Locked out the referees, leading to an increase in the likelihood of injuries and taking a major hit to the integrity of the league.

Things these actions have in common:

  1. Making more money for the NFL and its owners.


  1. Roger Goodell does not care about player safety or the integrity of the game.
  2. Roger Goodell cares about money and exercising authority.
  3. Roger Goodell should go sit on a pinecone.

*  The NCAA has instituted a rule wherein any player who loses a helmet must immediately give up on a play and must then sit out the following play.  The primary goal is to encourage players to wear properly fitted and strapped helmets, which can have a profound impact on concussion risk.  The secondary goal is to eliminate the ‘hero complex’ where a helmetless player attempts to complete a play and literally risks his life.  There is a stipulation that if the helmet is dislodged because of a penalty (e.g., facemask; illegal hands to the face), the player need not come out of the game for a play.  Why hasn’t the NFL adopted this rule?  Hmmm…


One man. Two boys. Twelve kids.


  1. You left out “propose increasing the number of games to 18, which comes close to fishing guaranteeing that no player survives the season without serious injury.”

  2. What about “used the sensationalism of the referee lock out to change the subject”?

    I’ve noticed there’s been a complete absence of concussion related stories recently.

    • Truth be told, I’m not sure which “black eye” the League would rather have be the focus at this point. Both make it look appallingly out-of-touch.

  3. Personally, I think the NFL’s dispute with the NFLRA is not about compensation as much as accountability. The NFL wants (and in some sense I agree with this) some level of control over who becomes refs, who maintains active status as refs, and also they want to increase the size of the referee pool. As it is right now, the NFLRA has sole jurisdiction over the individuals who make the calls on game day.

    I think the owners want to dismantle that part of the union, and that’s creating a sticking point.

  4. Noted: with the title of this this post, the phrase “sit on a pinecone” has completed its assimilation into LoOG vernacular, taking a place of honor alongside the euphemism “fish” and use of the numerical symbol “+1” and the phrase “space awesome” to indicate approval and agreement.

    • I stole it from Russell.

      I had a more preferred term, but erred on the side of not offending anyone with crassness.

  5. I thought the college helmet rule was a good idea, but by and large it doesn’t seem to be doing any good. Helmets appear to still be flying off left and right.

    Anyway, he’s an interesting article from a few months ago that Stillwater’s comment reminded me of. An important excerpt:

    When officials went on strike for one game in 2001, major-college refs filled in. That won’t happen this time. NFL refs now serve as supervisors of officials for five major conferences—the Big East, Big 12, Pac-12, Big Ten and Conference USA—and they won’t allow officials from those conferences to work NFL games. The source said that, in solidarity with the NFL zebras, supervisors in other FBS conferences won’t allow their officials to work NFL games either. That means the replacements will come from high schools or lower levels of college, or be retired and/or dismissed college refs.

    • Or refs from the Lingiere Football Legaue who’ve been thanked and excused from further duty for poor on-field performance.

      That ought to be a joke. But it’s not.

  6. With regards to player safety, the announcers on one of the games I watched this past weekend pointed out an interesting phenomenon. Players aren’t dumb, and they know that they’re dealing with officials who don’t want to make a mistake, which may encourage many of them to put their whistles in their pockets. Many players are taking advantage of this by pushing the limits of what constitutes unsportsmanlike conduct, a late hit, or anything else which might earn them a fifteen yard penalty. This results in lots of shoving and hitting after the whistle, and a massive increase in taunting (which is also unsportsmanlike conduct), inciting players to retaliate and further endangering player health. Quarterbacks, in particular, seem to be suffering many more hits than they would if the “real” officials were watching.

    And it isn’t just defensive players, either. I’ve seen more than one offensive lineman lay a good hit on an unsuspecting defensive player or land heavily on a defensive player at the periphery of the pile, all after the whistle has blown.

    • It could also be just plain inability to officiate at that level of gameplay. The refs might be used to slower gameplay, giving them plenty of time to look for the ball, figure out where the play’s going to happen, and then put their eyes there. At the NFL level, the refs have to know where the important parts of the player are going to be before it happens; they have to be experts in the game itself, as skilled mentally as anyone else on the field.

      As it is, the players out on the wings know that the refs are looking at the ball and not looking at them, so they’re pushing and shoving like teenagers.

      And, again, it’s not like this isn’t something that every new NFL ref would have to go through; but ordinarily, a new NFL ref would be one newbie among an experienced group who could tell him where to look and what to do. These guys don’t even have a cadre; they’re ALL new.

  7. The fact that the NFL, alone among the professional sports, has part-time referees is in itself ludicrous. This shouldn’t even be an issue.

    I’m just sick of this league and all its bullshit.

    • It is a bit hard to justify making their positions full-time given the time demands, or lackthereof. I realize there is more to their job than a few hours on Sundays in the fall and winter, but not enough to make it a 40/hr week, 50/wk per year job. And one of the NFL’s goals in the negotiation process is to have a larger pool of officials, meaning not every official or team of officials will work every weekend.

      • Sure it is.

        They should watch tape. There’s totally understandable, credible reasons for this. That plus flight time, game prep… that’s 40 hours, easy.

        I mean, if *I’m* a ref and some player has bitched to me about how such-and-so does this skeevy thing when I’m not looking, I want to watch tape of such and so. Also of some player. So that I can hit them with the book next time.

      • Uh.

        Average official works 36 hours a week not counting game time in preparation.

        In addition they have to maintain strict physical fitness standards which is in itself something of a full time position.

        And as it is, there’s been some professionalism complaints about refs being sloppy. Giving them more time and full off-season time to sharpen their skills and train officials at other levels of the game (such as college and high school officials) is a net benefit to everyone.

        • Does that mean I should start demanding time-and-a-half for all the work I do outside of my 40 hrs/week of classroom time? Lots of jobs involve off-hour work. Unless they are obligated to attend mandatory film sessions and/or training during the week, I think those hours are a bit fudged. Most of these guys have full-time jobs in addition to officiating. I know a number of them are lawyers. Do you have a source for those numbers? It wouldn’t surprise me if that weekly number of hours is arrived at by dividing the annual number of hours they work, including off-season training, by the 20 weeks of the NFL season, instead of the actual number of weeks it is spread over.

          I’m sorry, but I struggle to see the need to make a position that requires you to be at your primary responsibility for 4 hours a day, one day a week, over a maximum of 24 weeks (assuming an official works the entire pre- and post-season) into a full-time position.

          • It’s hard enough to convince them to take their pension cuts, but to also demand they give up whatever other careers they already have seems like a hard sell to me. I mean, if the solution is full-time officials, then you’ve got to accept that they’ll lose a lot of the current folks they have. The replacement refs, being full-time, ought to prove that it’s worth changing – but so far it looks to me like experienced part-time refs seem to be a vast improvement over the full-time inexperienced guys.

            From what I’ve seen reported, they’re going to start gradually bringing along full-time refs from now on but letting the current ones remain part-time.

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