Wake up America. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell isn’t going anywhere. In fact, he’s doing a great job.
Goodell answers to the NFL owners, not the commentators who mistakenly think his job has anything to do with the league’s fans or players.
The owners don’t care about domestic violence and concussions. They’re all about the billions and they happily pay Goodell $44 million a year because he sings them the song of tripling the NFL’s already huge revenues to $25B by 2027 at all costs.
But don’t the owners have enough money? They were billionaires even before they bought franchises whose average value has surged to $1.4B. Shouldn’t their teams be a nice hobby where they can hang with celebs in their luxury boxes and have some fun as big shots in the cities where they have done so well?
The owners only scaled this golden peak of massive wealth because of their bottomless appetites for more. Those appetites trumps reason, decency, and mercy.
The owners are fine to increase player injuries and degrading play quality with Thursday Night Football and a proposed 18 game season. They didn’t mind embarrassing the sport with unqualified replacement refs when they locked out their officials to squeeze a few more pension dollars out of that union.
Their power extends out to the broader society as well. The NFL has an anti-trust exemption from our government that lets them collude and suppress wages. Their product is covered as “news” and gets billions of dollars of free media promotion. Municipalities burn public money to build them new stadiums stuffed with luxury boxes and corporate logos. And yet, no amount of money or power can compete with more.
So why am I talking about this on a tech VC blog?
Because Goodell and his merry band of billionaire puppetmasters are just a microcosm for today’s American economy. They are the little edge of the machine that happens to operate in plain sight because our society cares more about sports than anything else.
Corporate CEOs capture multi-hundred million dollar comp packages. Big banks run a trading casino where they take home the winnings and taxpayers bail out the losses. Lobbyists win accounting rules that let companies move headquarters overseas to evade US taxes. Retailers use scheduling software to shuffle their workers down to 39 hours to avoid full-time pay and push them onto Medicare where the public can pay for their benefits.
In my world of technology, the big boys like Apple, Google and Facebook are certainly more popular than investment banks. They get to dress up what they do in lofty missions like connecting people and organizing the world’s information. But behind the cheerful logos and beanbag chairs, they’re part of the same churning wealth engine. Each idealistic founder will soon enough be pushed to sell her users’ data, or squeeze the pay-outs in a “sharing” service to get to the billion-dollar exits the real owners demand.
Please don’t mistake my tone here for criticism. I’ve always said I would tell it straight on this blog, so here it is.
This is the way it should be. This is what it looks like when you free talented, aggressive people to pursue wealth. This is technology and capital running unfettered from rules, caution, and complaining from the losers.
I won’t apologize for what I do, or for the rich and powerful people in sports or tech. Yes, we knock a lot of people out of the way. And yes, we like to buy nice cars and boats. But this is what real freedom and growth look like. The alternatives are all worse.
Atlas Shrugged came in second after The Bible in a survey of most influential books? We’re finally living in Ayn’s world, so let’s embrace it.
And for those sniping at Goodell and expecting him to care? Keep playing fantasy football and buy another team jersey. Or you could try to pick tech stocks at IPO after all the upside happened in the private market. Your money and attention just feeds a much bigger game that no one will sell you a ticket to.