The ultimate Monday morning quarterback has got to be NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who gathers his senior staff and officials on Monday to review the weekend's games - including controversial plays and calls. For the first time ever, cameras were allowed in this NFL meeting, and "60 Minutes" was there as they dissected and discussed some incidents in the first round of the playoffs. In this profile of Goodell, Steve Kroft examines the NFL's unusual business structure: 32 member teams whose players compete on the field, but whose owners cooperate in the business of keeping America's favorite pastime profitable. Wildly profitable. It's a $10 billion-a-year business, with soaring revenues and television ratings through the roof.
The following script is from "The Commissioner" which aired on Jan. 29, 2012. Steve Kroft is the correspondent. Draggan Mihailovich and Frank Devine, producers.
There are only two institutions in this country with the power to create almost limitless amounts of money. One is the Federal Reserve. The other is the National Football League. The Fed is run by Ben Bernanke, the NFL by Commissioner Roger Goodell. And Goodell is having a much better season. In the midst of an economic slump that has seen most American businesses struggle, the NFL's revenues are soaring and its television ratings are through the roof.
By a number of measures it is the most successful entertainment enterprise in the country. And with all due respect to the Ringling Brothers, right now the NFL is the "Greatest Show on Earth," and Commissioner Roger Goodell is the ringmaster.
Kroft's team lives out a fan's dream: Going behind-the-scenes with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
Roger Goodell: When we bring people into our stadium, or if they're watching on television, we want them to say, "That was the greatest entertainment I've ever seen."
It is the American adaptation of the Roman Coliseum, a spectacle that manages to package all the primal instincts. Sex...violence...tribalism...courage...joy...and disappointment. There are agile 300-pound gladiators, spear throwers, and acrobats. The best ones are multimillionaires often in the employ of billionaires, fortunate enough to own one of the NFL's 32 franchises. They pay Commissioner Roger Goodell to manage their $10 billion-a-year business, resolve their disputes and protect their most valuable asset: the game.
Steve Kroft: Now how much power do you have?
Goodell: I don't look at it in those terms. I have to make a lot of decisions that aren't in the best interests of individuals, whether they be owners, club executives, players. But I have to make sure the integrity of the game is protected at all times.
Kroft: And who decides what the integrity of the game is?
Goodell: That's my job.
He is CEO, negotiator, arbitrator, disciplinarian, enforcer, cheerleader and custodian of a national pastime and no one's errand boy. He is paid $10 million-a-year, to tell the owners who hired him - some of the richest, smartest, most competitive people in the country - what's best for them, or that he has to suspend one of their top players, or even fine them, for some infraction.
Kroft: You have to take action against your bosses from time to time...
Goodell: That's one way to look at it.
Kroft: And how do they like it?
Goodell: They don't like it, but they also understand my responsibilities. I don't expect to try to get people to like everything I do. I want them to respect what I do.
[Goodell: You know where you are when you walk into this stadium...]