Most major sports commissioners have been cautious, or even pessimistic, about their leagues resuming or playing their regularly scheduled seasons. The NFL’s Roger Goodell taken an entirely different approach.
During a conversation with Ankur Jain, CEO and founder of Kairos, Goodell made it clear that the NFL is planning on beginning their season on time.
“The NFL is planning to play,” Goodell said. “That’s our hope, and that’s our planning to date.
“We can help our country heal,” Goodell explained. “We can help bring our communities together. We can provide hope. We can provide a distraction from the everyday issues and show people that there is a future out there and that we’re all going to be part of that.”
It’s quite refreshing to hear the NFL commissioner describe sports as an escape or distraction from the pressures of real life. For a while, specifically during the Colin Kaepernick-led anthem protest movement, the league seemed to forget its role as a distraction from politics and/or life-and-death issues.
Goodell is also quite correct in assessing the NFL’s ability to provide “hope” and “bring communities together.” While the league has certainly not endeared itself to traditional American sports fans with rampant political activism and rule changes that have softened and slowed the pace of the game, the NFL is still unquestionably and by far the country’s most popular sport and nothing is going to change that anytime soon.
Still, despite his optimism over the starting the regular season on time, Goodell hastened to add that the league will make its decisions based on what is best for the public’s health.
“We have to put the general public safety but also the safety of all those workers [in stadiums],” Goodell said. “The hope here is that the steps that our leaders are taking are going to help end this pandemic as soon as possible.”
Goodell reassured that he believes the country will overcome the challenges posed by the virus, and prevail.
“We’re gonna get through this,” he said. “We’re gonna get through this together as a country and as world and that this is something that we’re going to overcome. People should keep that hope, because we’re going to get back to doing the things that we were doing and hopefully creating a great future for so many people, and I hope everyone stays involved and does what’s best in our communities in the short term but more importantly keeps focusing on the future, because it’s going to be a bright future for us.”
Falcons Owner Arthur Blank, and others, have posed the possibility of beginning the NFL season on time, but without fans in attendance.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn