Super Bowl Week has begun in earnest. The teams have arrived in New Orleans, and with them follows the media circus descending on the town seemingly built for the hoopla the NFL's yearly championship game brings.
One of the underlying stories we won't hear much of, though, is the reaction of the city of New Orleans toward the presence of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
There have been stores that posted "Refuse to serve Roger Goodell here" signs, pictures of Goodell adorn dart boards in local taverns and the feeling around town was apparently strong enough that city leaders are pleading with its citizens to embrace the hospitable culture for which the residents of New Orleans are known.
Goodell has to at least be listening to some of it. Can you find another reason why the year-long suspension given to Saints head coach Sean Payton was lifted several weeks earlier than originally planned?
One could make the argument Goodell was simply giving him the Roethlisberger Treatment, and letting him off a suspension early for "good behavior." I'd have to say the shoe fits; afterall, Payton and Roethlisberger are the only players under Goodell's regime who were suspended without being criminally charged with anything.
Butter 'em up, Roger. That's how politicians handle things.
All the fun of the Super Bowl aside - even if it's the choice between the Steelers' main rival and the team chasing their record for Super Bowl wins - it's interesting to see a city rally so aggressively (if not all in the spirit of good marketing) against the chief face of ownership in a professional league.
Then again, very few leaders in professional sports could manage to have work stoppages for both its players and officials in the same 12-month span despite the league's ability to print its own money and sell its product successfully anywhere in the U.S.
Maybe that's why his face is on a dart board in New Orleans. The fact he can be so powerfully unpopular, and yet, close to 140 million people will watch Super Bowl XLVII. It's understandable why he may not have shown his face in New Orleans post-suspension but prior to the Super Bowl festivities. Maybe Goodell is really nothing more than a less business savvy version of Cal Noughton Jr., to the fans' Ricky Bobby.
In New Orleans, he's the Magic Man. Now you see him when he's suspending your coach...now you don't.