The NFL’s 2011 schedule comes out today. Normally, this event would immediately spark breathless anticipation for the upcoming season, as fans begin planning their schedules around, and getting fired up for, those 16 dates. This year, though, it’s not much cause for celebration – since, you know, no one actually knows if the games on the schedule will ever take place.
No one’s impacted by that uncertainty more than NFL players themselves, and it just so happened that ESPN’s First Take had one on set today – Steelers safety, and players union rep, Ryan Clark. Clark hasn’t been shy about criticizing the NFL in the past, and that continued today – particularly in his assessment of commissioner Roger Goodell.
Mainly, Clark seemed upset at what he saw as Goodell’s propensity to put PR stunts above resolving relevant issues: “Roger Goodell finds some way to show his face to the fans…but it’s never with facts about what’s going on behind closed doors.” He even drew an unfavorable comparison to former commissioner Paul Tagliabue:
“Paul Tagliabue was a guy [who’s] gonna get people in the room [who] can make decisions, whereas throughout these negotiations…[Goodell] has to leave for hours to make conference calls and call people who can make decisions.”
Clark even noted that he thought Tagliabue was viewed as a “real man.” Ouch. And then he once again accused Goodell of putting his, and the league’s, image above all else:
“Instead of saying, ‘You know what, guys, we’re gonna hold the schedule off until we can figure out this situation – until we can make sure that the fans have football this year,’ no: ‘We’re gonna put the schedule out and find another way to put my face on TV.'”
Safe to say, it sounds like the players and NFL have a long way to go before they see eye-to-eye. Video below, via ESPN2.