Roger Goodell wakes up every morning with the weight of the world – or at least ESPN – on his shoulders. The NFL – the lifeblood of America; our annual distraction from economic woe, political quagmire and two wars (or is it three?) – is on the brink of a season lost to a multibillion-dollar labor dispute, and Goodell’s legacy may rest on his ability to break the gridiron gridlock before a single kickoff is missed.
Here now, a rare inside look at a typical day in the life of the NFL commissioner, grappling moment by moment with the fate of Sports Nation:
7:35 a.m.: Arises, gazes into bathroom mirror and says out loud, “I am Roger Goodell, commissioner of the National Football League.”
7:45: Daily breakfast of strawberries, truffles, a Crepe Suzette and champagne.
9:10: Alphabetizes file of players currently on suspension for drug violations.
9:20: Alphabetizes file of players fined last season for illegal hits.
9:30: Alphabetizes file of players detained by law enforcement in the past 12 months.
11:07: Tells priest – at confession – that he really doesn’t care about the fans.
11:53: Calls Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, tells him off the record that a settlement is “impending.”
11:59: Calls back King, tells him off the record that he meant a settlement is “improbable.”
12:05 p.m.: Monthly lunch with Paul Tagliabue; loses coin flip and has to pick up the check.
2:07: Asks wife Jane – for the umpteenth time – to call him “Commissioner” outside of the house, too.
2:15: Makes prank call to DeMaurice Smith, telling him he’s exceeded his cell-phone usage for the month and must buy a higher-tiered rate plan.
4:16: Confides to manicurist that “personal seat licenses are the greatest thing since the advent of the pay toilet.”
6:10: Fishes out year-old USA Today from backyard pool.
6:33: Asks personal assistant to book him on “Larry King Live.”
7:30: Monthly consult with David Stern in the backseat of the NBA commissioner’s Lincoln Continental at that abandoned lot under the Brooklyn Bridge.
9:14: Rereads Machiavelli’s “The Prince.”
10:44: Sneaks into den, dresses up in his private collection of vintage Neville Chamberlain outfits.
Midnight: Takes nightly hot tub while Jeff Pash feeds him grapes.
Ask The Slouch
Q. Re: Kobe Bryant’s slur directed toward referee Bennie Adams – is Black Mamba getting public-speaking tutoring from Charles Barkley? (Steven Richards; Albany, N.Y.)
A. In Bryant’s defense, I believe Adams had just called him a “cluckin’ maggot.”
Q. Since many Middle Eastern rulers now have to find other work, is it safe to assume that Joe Paterno is the world’s longest-reigning dictator? (John Koch; Pittsburgh)
A. Though semi-retired, Fidel Castro’s got him by seven years.
Q. Is there any truth to the rumor that you’re planning to lock out your readers unless we agree to send more questions and take an 18-cent pay cut? (William Murray; Chicago)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.