NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has built up a lot of ill will in his nearly 10 years on the job since succeeding Paul Tagliabue. But not all the players whom Goodell has suspended detest him.
In fact, one — former Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals defensive lineman Terry “Tank” Johnson — told The MMQB he formed a close relationship with Goodell after the commish suspended him eight games without pay in 2007 for violations of the personal conduct policy. Johnson had just served 60 days in jail after police raided his home and found six unregistered firearms, which was a probation violation from an earlier gun charge.
But two years later, Johnson came face to face with a man who tried to break into his car. The incident bothered Johnson so much that he went to go buy a gun. But first he — get this — called Goodell from the gun shop. After all, one of the stipulations of Johnson’s reinstatement was that he wasn’t able to own a firearm of any kind.
“Don’t buy it,” Goodell told him.
Instead, Goodell had a security officer sent to stand outside Johnson’s home every day for the next month until Johnson reported to training camp.
It’s clear there’s a widespread distrust of Goodell from many players. But as Johnson’s story shows, not all do — and perhaps, beneath that Darth Vader exterior, there’s also a soul to Goodell. Johnson, 34, now tells that story in light of his rehabilitation following legal troubles and actually works for the NFL as an intern in the player engagement department.
Goodell can’t and won’t order private security for each of the 2,000 or so NFL players each season, of course. And given the tone of the rest of the interesting MMQB.com feature, Goodell is almost stoic to a fault in not letting that human side of him seen too often. You can speculate for yourself as to the reasons why. But it’s one interesting anecdote of a man for whom broad strokes is the medium of choice for most who choose to paint him.
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