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Baffoe: All The Commissioners Just Suck

By Tim Baffoe-

(CBS) "Take it easy, Roger. Whyn't ya stop talking for a while." That's basically what Paul Tagliabue, the former Commissioner of the NFL, told his successor, current Commissioner of the NFL, on Tuesday. Tagliabue is a big Anchorman fan, by the way.

See, Roger Goodell is drunk with power and Ginger self-denial, and Tags, as his college bros call him (and his full last name means "cut the steer?" That's awesome, actually.) had to cut down this steer by letting him know the way he handled the Saints Bountygate scandal was fairly bullish. More importantly, someone with some credibility has finally told the head of a major sports league that he's being a massive prick.

Is it really understood by greater fandom that we're living in a time of the worst set of league poobahs ever? It's not as though I'm expecting a Richard Branson-type of "hey, look how cool I am" guy or gal to run a league, but the four devils in Dockers running the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL are an unprecedented group, each with his own huge slice of the sanctimonious assclown pie on his plate.

Bountygate certainly isn't Goodell's sole instance of WTFery. Heading a league that the great Pete Rozelle built to a point where you'd actually have to try to mess it up, the current NFL leader is trying to mess it up.

Everything in the NFL now gets fined, including not tackling in the abdominal region, not waving in appreciation when someone lets you make a left turn in front of them, and farting in an elevator. All of a sudden personal foul penalties cost not only a player's team 15 yards but also that player's wallet. When did this fining things you get flagged for become kosher? $7,875 for pulling a guy's leg. That same price for a hit you were flagged for. $10,000 for being a troll (even though you were also flagged for that). So… explain to me what the point of personal foul flags is then, Your Finingness? Why not paddlins instead?

These personal foul fines I guess are supposed to deter players from committing them, likely because most of those foul acts deal with player safety, something Goodell has put at the forefront of appearing to give a crap during his tenure. Pretending that cutting out bits of the paycheck of a man who is paid to be violent for being violent will curb just the certain subjective acts of violence segregated by the league as the bad violence is about the same as telling a man that he will be punished for consuming certain drugs while at the same time encouraging him to consume other drugs that turn a profit for a select group of people and expect illegal drug use to subside.

The violence is the sexiness is the drawing power of the NFL. Goodell knows this, and I don't begrudge him of that. But he has to pick a lane—either admit the game is brutal and detrimental to those who play it or completely alter it to be as safe as possible. Don't just get rid of kickoffs and tell me all's well.

Then there is David Stern. Stern is the most noble of this group, actually, but that is due to more of the top of his proverbial Wikipedia page. After becoming Commissioner of the NBA in 1984, Stern (with a bit of help from a kid from North Carolina) helped build it into in the global entertainment force it is today. He deserves infinite kudos for that.

His reign has not been without very questionable incidents, though when you span four decades it'd be almost impossible to avoid such. For a long time the only issue I took with a Stern decision was his implementation of the league's dress code. I believe a professional should look professional, but I've always had a hard time believing the dress code wasn't rooted in some way in PR designed to keep white people from being afraid of large black men representing the culture they've come from—disallowing players to dress as they would casually in an attempt to mask their personalities. Overall, though, the dress code is fairly innocuous.

But while Stern's head-scratchers were few and far between for the majority of his tenure, they've come with more frequency of late. There was his role as villain in the most recent NBA labor dispute. Then his vetoing of the Chris Paul trade a year ago for no discernible reason that just so happened to involve the New Orleans Hornicans, who were controlled by the league itself. Stern had always been a prick, but it began to seem he was becoming something worse.

2012 proved that. Fining the San Antonio Spurs for smart coaching was one of the biggest jokes by suits in sports in my lifetime. It essentially said, "If I don't like your otherwise legal coaching methods, I'll piss all over them." And now Stern wants to again affect coaching by ridding the league of that aspect of the game that fans repeatedly (never) demand the game (not) be rid of (whatsoever)—"hack-a-Shaq." He also is pretending to be appalled that people want to gamble on sports.

Where Stern was a tough-love presidential leader before, he is now a fanatical dictator today. I'd like to say at least his fascist ways will be gone when he retires in 2014, but what's to say Adam Silver won't pick up where Stern left off? I mean, Silver's a Duke grad.

And what is there to say about Gary Bettman that hasn't been said about Enron? Bettman was groomed under Stern in the NBA, and it seems all he learned was how to be a jerk without being redeeming about it like Stern was for so long.

From The New York Times when he became hockey's head honcho: "Bettman's mission is simple: Put a stop to labor unrest; sell the product in television's mainstream marketplace; change the violent image of the game; curb salary inflation; force enlightened self-interest on reluctant, old-fashioned owners; expand contacts with European developmental leagues and markets; settle the divisive issue of possible Olympic involvement, and help launch several new expansion teams." Three lockouts, failing expansion teams, awful TV ratings due to his fustercluckery, two Minnesota Wild player contracts, and a bloodthirsty fanbase in a pear tree later, and that mission has been accomplished in aircraft carrier proportions.

But at least Goodell, Stern, and Bettman have never decided that an exhibition game that the participants are often indifferent to at best should affect the sports postseason. Enter Bud Selig.

Selig benefitted from a steroid era that he quietly condoned as it happened, but that was after he thought he could defeat the world's most powerful labor union and in the process drove away many of the fans. But that's all better now because the league's drug testing is foolproof and nondiscriminatory of substances.

Then he decided to fix a tiny glitch in the All-Star Game that nobody cares about by having a guy on the Pirates perhaps change the course of every guy on the Yankees. But it's all better now because of a new playoff format that is ultimately stupid.

Bud Selig is the dad from The Critic.

So, yeah, our fearless leaders all suck. And while what Tagliabue did gives us a sliver of hope that they can't be megalomaniacs in their fields all the time, ultimately fans have to sit back and shake their heads. That is until Goodell finds protection for head-shaking that Stern won't fine before Bettman sells your head to an obscure cable channel that causes Selig to form a committee on giving us new heads.

Jeff Pearl
The author. (credit: Jeff Pearl)

Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for, Tim corrupts America's youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim's inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @Ten_Foot_Midget , but please don't follow him in real life. He grew up in Chicago's Beverly To read more of Tim's blogs click here.


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