About Roger S. Goodell
Roger S. Goodell (born February 19, 1959) is the Commissioner of the National Football League (NFL), having been chosen to succeed the retiring Paul Tagliabue on August 8, 2006. He was chosen over four finalists for the position, winning a close vote on the fifth ballot before being unanimously approved by acclamation of the owners. He officially began his tenure on September 1, 2006, just prior to the beginning of the 2006 NFL season. Many commentators have described him as "the most powerful man in sports".
Goodell was born in Jamestown, New York, the son of the late United States Senator Charles E. Goodell, a Republican from New York, and the late Jean Rice Goodell of Buffalo, New York. He graduated from Bronxville High School where, as a three-sport star in football, basketball, and baseball, he captained all three teams as a senior and was named the school's athlete of the year. Injuries kept him from playing college football. Goodell is a 1981 graduate of Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, Pennsylvania with a degree in economics.
From intern to COO
Goodell's career in the NFL began in 1982 as an administrative intern in the league office in New York under then-Commissioner Pete Rozelle – a position secured through an extensive letter-writing campaign to the league office and each of its then 28 teams. In 1983, he joined the New York Jets as an intern, but returned to the league office in 1984 as an assistant in the public relations department.
In 1987, Goodell was appointed assistant to the president of the American Football Conference (Lamar Hunt), and under the tutelage of Commissioner Paul Tagliabue filled a variety of football and business operations roles, culminating with his appointment as the NFL's Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer in December 2001. As the NFL's COO, Goodell took responsibility for the league's football operations and officiating, as well as supervised league business functions. He headed NFL Ventures, which oversees the league's business units, including media properties, marketing and sales, stadium development and strategic planning.
Goodell was heavily involved in the negotiation of the collective bargaining agreement with the NFLPA and NFL owners during the summer of 2011. He also played an extensive role in league expansion, realignment, and stadium development, including the launch of the NFL Network and securing new television agreements.
NFL commissioner selection
Goodell's selection as Commissioner following the retirement of Paul Tagliabue came as no surprise, but it was not a fait accompli. Tagliabue initiated a substantive, wide ranging search for his successor, appointing a committee headed by owner Dan Rooney of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Goodell was one of five finalists, joining Gregg Levy, Frederick Nance, Robert Reynolds, and Mayo Shattuck III. With 22 votes from the owners being needed to make a choice, Goodell, who oddsmakers had installed as a prohibitive 2:5 favorite to be selected, only garnered 15 votes to Levy's 13, with three votes scattered among the other candidates and the Oakland Raiders abstaining.
On the second and third ballots, Goodell and Levy were the only candidates to receive votes (Goodell 17, Levy 14). Goodell increased his lead to 21–10 after the fourth ballot, falling one vote shy of election, but on the fifth round of voting two owners swung their votes to him to achieve the necessary two-thirds majority (Goodell 23, Levy 8). The Oakland Raiders abstained from the voting in each round.
Goodell was chosen on August 8, 2006, to succeed Paul Tagliabue and assumed office on September 1—the date Tagliabue set to leave office.
Actions as commissioner
For more details on Roger Goodell's actions on NFL player conduct, see National Football League player conduct controversy.
Further information: Spygate
In November 2006, amid rumors that the NFL may expand outside of the United States, Goodell stated "I don't know if it will become a reality, but it is certainly a possibility."
In April 2007, following a year of significant scandal surrounding some NFL players' actions off-the-field, Goodell announced a new NFL Personal Conduct Policy. Tennessee Titans cornerback Pacman Jones and Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry were the first two players to be suspended under the new policy, and Chicago Bears defensive lineman Tank Johnson was suspended months later due to his conduct involving weapon ownership and drunk driving. On August 31, 2007, Goodell suspended Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson for five games and fined him US$100,000, and suspended New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison four games without pay, after they admitted the use of banned substances for medical purposes and to accelerate healing, respectively. The league indicated to Wilson that his more severe penalty was because they held "people in authority in higher regard than people on the field."
On September 13, 2007, Goodell disciplined the New England Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick after New England attempted to videotape the defensive signals of the New York Jets on September 9. Belichick was fined the league maximum of US$500,000 and the team itself was fined US$250,000 and the loss of their first round 2008 draft pick. Goodell said he considered suspending Belichick, but decided against it because he felt the penalties were "more effective" than a suspension.
On October 19, 2010, the NFL handed out fines to Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, Falcons Cornerback Dunta Robinson, and New England Patriots Safety Brandon Meriweather after they were involved in controversial hits the previous Sunday. Goodell released a memo to every team in the league stating that "It is clear to me that further action is required to emphasize the importance of teaching safe and controlled techniques, and of playing within the rules." The NFL's reaction to the hits was itself controversial and Goodell came under criticism from players like Troy Polamalu, who felt he had assumed too much control and power over punishment towards players and was making wrong decisions.
Prior to the start of the 2011 NFL season, Goodell worked with NFL owners and the NFLPA on settling the NFL lockout which ran from March 11 to August 5. During the lockout, at the request of some NFL teams, he held conference calls with season ticket holders where he discussed the collective bargaining agreement and conducted question-and-answer sessions on various NFL topics.
Goodell is married to former Fox News Channel anchor Jane Skinner and they have twin daughters. He has four brothers; among them are Tim, who works for the Hess Corporation; and Michael, long-time partner of Jack Kenny, creator of the short-lived NBC series The Book of Daniel. The Webster family on the show was loosely based on the Goodell family.