Dear Commissioner Roger Goodell,
You suck! No seriously, you have easily been the worst commissioner the NFL has had in some time, if not ever. When it comes to players and the fans, you have gone out of your way to make life horrible and inconvenient, which you would think goes against what the NFL as a professional sports league would want. Yet, here we are.
After shutting down the National Fantasy Football Convention with limited warning, there are now reports flying around that you have banned three Miami Dolphin players from participating in a poker tournament. Keep in mind that both the fantasy convention and the poker tournament were things organized to allow fans to interact with their favorite players, yet the league and you personally have taken a stance against potential gambling like it is your new war on drugs.
It's one thing to falsely accuse players and coaches of a bounty program or have yet another cheating scandal under your belt, but another thing completely when you start to segregate football fans and players. By pushing away these types of events, you are keeping fans further away from a sport that they pay billions upon billions to enjoy. Now, I can understand that this is likely a preemptive strike to keep players out of trouble and ultimately keep the face of the league you run clean, in the light of all the recent troubles. But that is probably what pisses me and many other fans off even more- because it doesn't come off as anything other than a public relations move.
With players having issues with alcohol and drugs only to have you punish them accordingly like some type of morally-just figure, it comes off weak when we see 30 beer commercials in a football game. When you prevent players from holding a fantasy football convention because of the possibility of gambling or associating with a casino, it comes off as extremely two-faced, being that you have an ever growing fantasy section on the NFL's own website and in it's own coverage of every event. When you fine players for punishing hits only to sell prints of those exact hits the next day, it comes off as pure hypocrisy. When you fine players for not talking to the media only to never be available yourself, you come off as a coward and a thief.
Let's take the NFL Draft for instance, an event that you have pushed to be a spectacle in the middle of an otherwise relatively dry and boring off-season. Between picks, we have Bud Light commercials and reporters specifically covering the fantasy value of selected players. If we were to add up the minutes spent on alcohol and fantasy football from the entire live draft coverage, I'm sure it would outweigh all the other live coverage by a rate of 2/1.
I think the thing that is growing as a major issue for the fans and players is the insincerity of it all. As the commissioner, you have presented a public image of one who wants the best for players and owners. A moral high ground has been established with the handling of things like BountyGate and the creation of harsher punishments for things like drug and alcohol problems, on-field penalties, and domestic violence. Yet, with players and owners receiving two very different punishments for similar offenses, and with the hypocrisy surrounding the NFL's portrayal of violent hits and it's love/hate relationship with alcohol and gambling, you come off as disingenuous at best and downright criminal at worst.
I think fans and players would not only understand better but respect you more if you just came out from the start as the negotiating arm of the owners with a clear and publicly admitted agenda towards growing the NFL for the purpose of padding the pockets of owners. We as fans could then forgive you more for being so callous towards the well being of players and the satisfaction of fans. It would create an obvious dividing line between the NFLPA and the league itself, with the NFLPA being responsible for taking care of retirement funds and safety issues, while the league only focuses on creating more revenue. We know that is how it is now and it would work for most fans if it weren't so terribly hidden beneath a surface of fake smiles and press releases. But it would be nice to have you either admit it outright or actually be the guy you pretend to be.