Roger Goodell’s “Pete Rozelle” Moment
by Anthony Stasi
Nov 07, 2012 | 16578 views | 0 0 comments | 502 502 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Two days following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, National Football League commissioner Pete Rozelle decided to play its scheduled games. That decision hung over his career for the rest of his life like a giant gray cloud.

It happens – people make the wrong call. When it happens again, however, it means we did not learn anything.

There was no reason for the Giants’ game with the Pittsburgh Steelers to be played in New Jersey this Sunday. Roger Goodell, the current NFL commissioner, feels that the league needs to go on playing in the Garden State as a way to show that the “Greatest Show on Turf” must go on.

As someone who spent the better part of 12 years in television and often participated in live events, I understand the difficulty of moving all of that hardware (cameras, lights, electrical uplink equipment, etc.) to some place else on short notice.

But there are times when we need to show respect for the people in the real world. The families that are without power, without shelter, without food, are not going to get inspiration from a mega-stadium filled with electricity and fanfare.

Goodell could have kept the game on schedule by moving it, since the storm is generally a regional situation. Are there any towns between East Rutherford and Pittsburgh that are on hard economic times that could use a surprise NFL game on their turf?

This was a chance for corporate America - and professional sports is the epitome of corporate America - to show some creativity. Many saw the movie Mystery, Alaska, where the New York Rangers play in a small town team in Alaska. Is it so far-fetched?

In the 369 miles between East Rutherford and Pittsburgh there is an unemployment level that is depressing. If you think your utility companies forgot you, talk to the lost families of coal country.

The direct route between both teams’ cities cuts right across Allentown and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where they have been in a recession for a lot longer than most of us. Why not bring an NFL game to one of their college fields and give them the Greatest Show on Turf?

Why not share the wealth a little? What football fans are going to really enjoy being at this game at MetLife Stadium knowing what is going on in neighboring towns anyway?

It is true that many of the fans at MetLife Stadium are season ticket holders and a cancelation could be messy, but this is a unique circumstance. Professional football has always tried to sell itself as being more appealing to the regular guy. So much for that, I guess.

It’s a business, folks, please take your mini-barbeques with you when you leave the stadium.

A few of those season ticket holders are residents of Broad Channel, Queens, which is under water. If the league wants to show respect to the victims – and its season ticket holders – it could have moved the game and made it up to those with tickets later on.

Nobody would have faulted Goodell for the doing the right thing. He made the wrong call by allowing this game to be played on Sunday night in New Jersey.

And this was Goodell’s call, not Governor Chris Christie’s call. He had the chance to be creative, but he was not. He had the chance to tip his hat to those who are without homes, and he did not. He had the chance to re-create one of the biggest blunders in NFL front office history, and he may have done it.

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