Discussion

Preseason Cup O' Joe

Theismann takes a look at the new commissioner, quarterbacks and his new gig as a commentator on MNF.

Updated: September 2, 2006, 7:29 PM ET
By Joe Theismann | ESPN Insider
Hail to the new chief

I don't think you can talk about the new boss (Roger Goodell) of the NFL until you talk about the old one. Everyone should admire the leadership Paul Tagliabue showed during his tenure as the head of the NFL.

A lot of wonderful things happened for the players and the owners while the NFL was under his control. Tagliabue tried his best to protect the players on and off the field by helping to institute a series of rules that made sure that the game is played on an even playing field and that fans won't see gruesome hits because of a lack of protection from the rules or the equipment. He also instituted a terrific drug program that might seem unfair to some but is set up to protect players from the vagaries of off-the-field life by ensuring they know they are going to pay a heavy price and potentially face the loss of their livelihood if they dabble in drugs. Finally, Tagliabue has the league in a position where the players have increased salaries but the largeness of those salaries doesn't handcuff the owners and keep them from making money like in other sports.

The challenge for Goodell will be to maintain the status quo within the ownership groups. He has inherited a league that is in excellent shape and must find a way to maintain that while also moving forward. Tagliabue did a great job during his tenure of always making sure the owners understood that if the league did well, the owners would, too. That's the part of the job Goodell must succeed at because he's dealing with a group of owners who've made their fortunes someplace besides football. This isn't just a business but also a bit of an expensive toy. It's difficult dealing with people who are used to getting their own way all the time, so leading this group is a monumental task.

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