By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- Some people say that the American dream is dead, that the idea of an honest man finding success in this cruel world is a thing of the past, that only the rats and liars get rewarded while the honorable, hard-working man gets left to fend for himself.
These people have obviously never met Roger Goodell.
The NFL commissioner -- a human beacon of integrity -- managed to earn a $32 million salary in 2015, according to Sports Business Journal.
Of course, Roger has not been without his faults. But what man has?
There was the whole mishap of accidentally having Ray Rice's wife in the room when questioning both about the events inside that elevator. And then there was the whole slap-on-the-wrist punishment to help out golf buddy Steve Bisciotti. Ah, and then there was that pesky TMZ -- always meddling in the business of good people, that TMZ! -- releasing the video that showed what the whole world knew happened. After that was the faux outrage from Goodell, who claimed to be completely stunned by the visual evidence of what Ray Rice had already admitted to, and then of course the former district judge ruling that Goodell had lied about what he knew.
The summer and autumn of 2014 was not the best time for Goodell, but anyone that's followed his tenure would know that it was all just a series of honest, unfortunate mistakes. And so, when gauging what kind of impact this type of behavior should have on the commissioner's salary, the virtuous owners decided to come down hard.
They docked him $2 million.
It was a 6 percent drop in salary from 2014.
Brutal, brutal stuff. No man deserves that kind of unfair treatment -- certainly when that man has never done anything wrong in the past and has done so much to promote the love of this great game known as American football.
After such a harsh punishment, Goodell set out in 2015 to be a better man. And when he and his staff of merry misfits turned the AFC Championship Game into an episode of "Beakman's World," complete with horrifically unscientific science experiments in the locker room, the opportunity presented itself to regain that standing.
Of course, in the process of trying to catch Tom Brady and the Patriots red-handed (and perhaps in trying to remove the black cape from his own back and place it gently on someone else's shoulders), he may have once again made a few well-intentioned mistakes. Did his people totally flub the measurements of air pressure in footballs? Perhaps. Did his employees leak false information in order to create a firestorm of controversy around the Patriots leading up to the Super Bowl? Maybe. Did his hand-selected investigator adamantly state that he was "independent" when in fact he was anything but? Sure. And did Goodell himself bend the truth and tell a harmless white lie when upholding his own decision by stating that Tom Brady was untruthful during his testimony in an appeal hearing? OK, fine, sure.
But listen -- listen! This is Roger Gooodell we're talking about here. This is a man who has never once spoken out loud without fitting the word "integrity" into a sentence. This is a man whose honesty, transparency and fairness has been almost universally recognized around the league. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find a player who has taken issue with anything Goodell has done over the past decade.
So, congratulations to Roger, who has reinforced to all of us that the American dream is alive and well. If one works hard enough, if one is ethical enough, if one creates righteous standards for himself and if one remains noble and principled at all times, then one can indeed earn a decent living in this great country of ours.
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