It’s estimated Roger Goodell makes more than $35 million a year to serve as NFL commissioner. I once believed he was overpaid by, oh, $34.5 million a year, but a relentless barrage of off-the-field incidents since the Super Bowl has forced me to re-evaluate my sense the commissioner doesn’t deserve to be an aspiring billionaire.
Where to begin?
Let’s begin with a quote I saw scrolled the other night on ESPN.
“I don’t know how many fingers he has.”
New York Giants co-owner John Mara was talking about Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who suffered a serious hand injury while lighting fireworks on Independence Day. Mara tried to visit Pierre-Paul in a Florida hospital but was turned away — something involving a complicated contract dispute —and has yet to ask Pierre-Paul the sort of question adults typically avoid asking each other at cocktail parties.
“How many fingers do you have?”
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay Bucs owner Malcom Glazer knows precisely how many right fingers cornerback C.J. Wilson has: Three. He lost two of them in a similar July 4 accident, forcing the veteran to take a leave from the team that could be permanent.
When two players lose fingers in fireworks mishaps occurring on the same day, you know what kind of summer it has been for the NFL.
New York Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson still has 10 fingers, all of which were used to steer his Bentley Flying Spur through traffic during an interstate road race in July that police clocked at 143 mph.
Unless you’re wearing a helmet and a fire-retardant suit adorned with soft-drink logos, it is usually not a good idea to drive 143 mph. And it is never a good idea to drive 143 mph in a car containing a loaded semiautomatic gun in the front, a 12-year old passenger in the back, and the smell of weed everywhere.
Richardson must have realized what a bad idea it was to get high while driving 143 mph on the, um, highway, because when he noticed flashing lights in the rearview mirror, he figured the cops were in pursuit of him.
At which point he decided to try to outrace them, still another bad idea.
Besides securing a spot — as captain, to be sure — on the NFL’s all-time, all-brazen team, Richardson’s arrest was notable for something else: News of it followed his vow that the Jets “don’t have to worry about my name being in the news again,” referring to his recent four-game suspension for substance abuse.
Richardson might be dumb, but when it comes to stupidity, nobody outclasses the Chicago Bears.
Their new general manager, Ryan Pace, signed Ray McDonald to a one-year deal despite McDonald’s troubled history in San Francisco, where he was involved in three domestic-violence incidents.
The Bears insisted they did their homework by consulting McDonald’s former defensive coaches, and added him to their roster March 24.
He was arrested May 25 for — get this — domestic violence and possible child endangerment, and arrested again, two days later, for violating a restraining order.
The Bears executives who didn’t foresee the McDonald acquisition as an inevitable fiasco are still executives, which brings me back to Roger Goodell: He oversees a league teeming with knuckleheads at every level, from players who can’t handle dangerous explosives to owners incapable of recognizing other kinds of dangerous explosives.
Not that Goodell has time to feel sorry for himself. He’s bracing for a flying-wedge collision with his ex-best friend, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, over the four-game suspension of quarterback Tom Brady for the surreptitious tailoring of footballs deflated for an optimum grip.
Heaven only knows why the NFL still has rules regarding the air-pressure of a football — the league sold its soul to enhance scoring years ago — but “Deflategate” poses a literal link to Watergate: The possible corruption in the cover-up of the crime is much more egregious than the actual crime.
Cooler heads always could prevail, of course, but the expectation is that the Patriots’ fight to overturn Brady’s four-game suspension will go all the way to a federal court in New York.
That’s right, a federal case appears imminent about the air pressure in a football.
Only in America.
Only in America can somebody be paid more than $35 million annually for a job no contented person should ever want.