Michael Sam won the PR battle at NFL Combine
SB 1062 allows businesses to openly and legally discriminate against gay patrons based on religious grounds. (USATSI)
Roger Goodell has an interesting choice in three days if Arizona Governor Jan Brewer makes an interesting choice in two days. And the beauty of it for Goodell is, he has precedent for each choice that makes him look both good and bad.
In other words, he has Jed York’s convoluted choice on Jim Harbaugh, only for much larger stakes.
[RATTO: Jed York's valuable lesson]
The issue, of course, is Arizona’s notorious SB 1062, which allows businesses to openly and legally discriminate against gay patrons based on religious grounds, which rests on Brewer’s desk waiting either for her signature, her veto, or her refusal to acknowledge it, in which case it becomes law anyway.
How does Goodell come into it? Well, guess where the Super Bowl (and even more catastrophically, perhaps even the Pro Bowl) is scheduled to be played? Yes. Glendale, West Of Phoenix.
And the NFL hates this bill because, well, the bill should be hated. If you want to engage in a debate about a proprietor’s right to refuse service to anyone for any reason, take it somewhere else. You will not be engaged on the subject or humored in any way, not here. This bill is wrong on its face, and that’s the end of it.
And how do we know its wrong? Well, there are 35 different ways, but we’ll just leave it in the words of the devout: “Hate the sin, not the sinner.” Remember that one?
End of digression.
The NFL also hates this because it
is being dragged/shoved is boldly marching through its stop-worrying-about-sexuality phase of its corporate development -- one of the hidden ways that the Michael Sam story is damned important. That was for those of you, professional golfers and otherwise, who want to claim that him being gay is no big deal and should be treated as such.
And SB 1062 is a finger in that eye.
So what does Goodell do? Well, a prior Super Bowl (1993) was pulled from Arizona when it chose by ballot not to honor Martin Luther King Day, and Brewer has to do something by Friday, which gives the NFL exactly 11 months to take the game to one of its favorite alternate haunts -- possibly New Orleans.
[RELATED: NFL won't rule out moving Super Bowl XLIX]
All he has to do is corral the owners and get the most powerful ones to do some vote-trading, cajoling and smooth-talking -- you know, the way things get done in any big corporation run by 30-some-odd billionaires.
That is, if he wants to. Goodell may work for others, but he’s powerful enough to lobby for or against something on his own as well. In fact, the process may have already begun, because SB 1062 has not exactly been a secret.
Of course, he would have to explain while coming out against this bill is the right thing to do while maintaining the rights and dignity of the Washington franchise to maintain its team nickname, an inconsistency that exists only because Washington owner Danny Snyder wants it to.
But the Super Bowl impacts another of the 32, the Arizona Cardinals, and the Bidwill family is caught in the middle here -- again. The Cardinals and the Super Bowl committee have joined to oppose the bill, but losing the game would still be a considerable financial blow to both team and town.
So Goodell isn’t likely to have unilateral support in any initial vote to move the game. It would, if it occurred, be announced as unanimous, but no vote ever truly is at least during the period when everyone is allowed to speak freely.
So the NFL waits for Jan Brewer to do whatever it is she is or isn’t going to do on Friday. But since it is likely that she will wait until as last as possible on Friday to do it, the NFL will surely have a response ready for Saturday’s news cycle -- traditionally the slowest news day of the week.
And the beauty of taking the Super Bowl out of Arizona for the NFL is that it could use SB 1062 as its shield, as in:
“We exercise our right to refuse service to the people of Arizona on religious grounds. Namely, our devout belief in money, marketing and public posture. Hey, you have your God, we have ours. So long, suckers.”