NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been a divisive character with Bengals fans in the past. Most notably during the team's fallout that left players dealing with legal issues that were incorporated into a hardline approach against character problems in the NFL. Not that Bengals players didn't deserve every bit of punishment handed to them, there were times that in our view, Bengals players were targeted with a harsher hand.
Eventually, Goodell won us over. If not for addressing character problems across the league and making a noticeable impact, the acceptance of bloggers like Jason Garrison, who spoke over the phone with the NFL Commissioner after reading Jason's excellent observations when the Commissioner visited Cincinnati last fall, has been phenomenal. The Commissioner mentioned Cincy Jungle in a tweet a few days later.
Here's another cool story, showing the quality in the Commissioner's character. Peter King wrote a piece in Sports Illustrated's February 7 edition titled "The Man of the Hour", detailing the Commissioner's background. In the opening segment of King's piece, he writes about Tank Johnson, who was suspended eight games the previous season for several gun violations.
As a condition for his reinstatement, Johnson was not allowed to own a firearm during the duration of his NFL career. Then, one night outside his mother's house in Arizona, Johnson "startled two young men who were using long screwdrivers to break into his car, a vintage '71 Chevelle SS, and they ran away."
Johnson, believing he needed to protect himself and his family, went to a gun store "with a .40 caliber pistol in hand, ready to buy". King writes that Johnson decided that "he'd better call Goodell and explain the situation."
"Tank," Goodell said. "Don't do it. Walk out of the store."
As one would imagine, angrily left the store while still on the phone with Goodell. King wrote.
Then Johnson saw something he'll never forget. "That night a car parks outside my mom's house," he says. Private security, arranged by Goodell. "Every night till I left for training camp, from sundown to sunup, maybe six weeks, that car's there, with security watching my mom's house."
We can't say we've always agreed with the Commissioner on every issue -- 18-game schedule, using the public as a means to gain support, international games, even the appearance of stiffer penalties against Bengals players in the past -- but this does go to show that while Goodell will apply a tougher stance, he'll still do everything he can to help the players anyway he can.