Goodell: A Whack-A-Mole who makes eight figures

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Goodell: A Whack-A-Mole who makes eight figures

On the one hand, Roger Goodell recusing himself from the New Orleans Bounty Dance judging panel is good thing.

On the other, replacing himself with his former boss, Paul Tagliabue, is not.

On the third hand, maybe this is a step toward getting Goodell out of the prosecutorjudgejuryappeals court business, which is a good thing.

And on the fourth, maybe its also a sign that commissioners should either be paid by both players and owners so impartiality has a chance to flourish and absurd hatefest impasses can be minimized.

Nahhh. Thatll never work.

But it should. Either that, or the commissioners job should be temped out to some hiring hall that also furnishes court reporters, actuaries and consultants. I mean, in the last few years . . . well, lockouts, actually . . . weve seen through the veil and now understand that commissioners get paid not to oversee the game but to take sandwich orders from the owners and kick the players union in the groin on command.

Thats why they get booed every time they pop up in public, a festival a Whack-A-Mole that gets the mole paid in eight figures every year. And they get the job so that some owner doesnt have to be the mole. That alone is worth 10 extra large a year.

But you can see we already are exceeding our jurisdiction on the news that Goodell has decided to get off the HMS Bounty and concentrate on things that dont make him look so . . . well, relentlessly vindictive, high-handed and bullying. I mean, its nice work if you can get it, but it wears on a fella after awhile.

Goodell became a national villain over the last year or so, which was not part of the master plan when he took the job. He came in, punished a few miscreant players, and everyone cheered. Then he became the face of the lockout, and fewer people cheered. Then he got stuck neck-deep in the ongoing hilarity that is Louisiana politics, football style, and suddenly he looked like the hall monitor whose shorts ride up periodically so he takes it out on the students.

This, even at his magnificent salary and benefits, is not what he signed up for. And while hell still have to be the public mean guy so that Bob Kraft can go on pretending to be kindly old Uncle Bobby, some issues become a cavalcade of diminishing returns.

So, confronted by the knowledge that he was becoming caricatured as what he essentially is the owners beat cop, with all the objectivity of a Chicago ward-heeler he decided to pass this particular cup of merlot-gone-vinegar to Tagliabue, who used to be commissioner when being the commissioner meant a lot more invisibility.

Tagliabue was indeed the Bowie Kuhn of football, someone who tried to keep the demands of the job from lapping too forcefully at the door of his summer house. The commissioners job at the time was in many ways not much more powerful than being an owners cabana boy, and Tagliabue wasnt really asked to address the tougher questions of the day. He was a head, with someone elses figure.

But Goodells ascension meant more out-front work, more hands-on adjudications, more kicking the union into line, that sort of thing. He looked good doing it, and people largely approved.

The funny thing about being the front man, though, is that the sins of the invisible superiors eventually start becoming part of the front mans wardrobe, and then believabilitycredibilitysupport starts to rust and flake off. The New Orleans thing had become too much a drain on Goodells other work on behalf of his superiors, and people were beginning to sense that there was something inherently wrong with the arresting officer also being the chief justice of the Supreme Court.

So he passed that on to the guy he used to work for, and ultimately Tagliabue will get a nice little retainer for doing what Goodell would have done anyway. The process is still no more neutral than it was before, but at least Goodell doesnt end up looking quite so bad.

Until the next stupid thing one of his bosses clients does. Thats the thing about the job. Theyre not paying that kind of jack for any old P.R. work; and when the P.R. isnt going quite as good as you like, you either change the lineup, or you really change the lineup.

So think of Tagliabue in this instance as Colin Kaepernick. Hes getting a play, not the starting quarterback job. You still get the 49ers, for good or ill, but its something to change the mood a little.

Healthy Edwards, NFL Draft could help Raiders improve interior pass rush

Healthy Edwards, NFL Draft could help Raiders improve interior pass rush

The Raiders had an NFL-worst 25 sacks last season, and that’s with Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin in their employ. That duo had 18 sacks (and 11 forced fumbles) between them. That left only seven for everyone else. Stacy McGee and Denico Autry had 2.5 each, and McGee isn’t here anymore.

Mario Edwards Jr. was certainly missed last season, when he missed 14 games with a preseason hip injury. The versatile defensive lineman is a solid edge run defender and internal pass rusher in the sub package.

If he’s healthy, Edwards Jr. could pose a real threat rushing the passer next to Irvin or Mack.

“Having Mario healthy will make us a better defense, and that’s not just as a pass rusher,” general manager Reggie McKenzie said in March. “He’s a solid run player. We’ve just got to have him healthy.

“But we’ll continue to add there, too.”

McKenzie subtracted one Tuesday, releasing Dan Williams to free salary cap space. He hasn’t yet added a defensive tackle in free agency, but could certainly do so in next week’s NFL draft.

There’s some quality interior pass rushers in this class. Let’s take a look at some options the Raiders could select and when:

Good fits: The Raiders select 24th overall in this draft, far lower than years past. Some quality defensive tackles might be a proper fit there, especially with depth at positions of need.

They could use some versatility, players like Edwards Jr. who can play multiple techniques. Michigan State’s Malik McDowell is an strong, athletic freak who analysts believe needs to improve his effort and technique. McDowell could develop into a top talent and be viewed as a steal at No. 24, or not realize full potential.

Michigan’s Chris Wormley is a versatile player in the Edwards Jr. mold, a player who seems to fit Raiders needs. Analysts says inconsistency is troubling but has the leadership quality and character the Raiders love. He can be a base end and move inside when required. He also has the size at 6-foot-5, 298 pounds and could develop well at the NFL level while making an immediate impact.

Florida’s Caleb Brantley is also an intriguing prospect adept at reaching the offensive backfield. Analysts say he’s a powerful player with quickness and an ability to work through blocks despite being slightly undersized. Brantley is potential to be a quality NFL pass rusher, and is confident in his ability. He didn’t play a high snap count at Florida, but the Raiders might use him in sub packages as a rookie and fill an important role right away. He’s viewed as a second round pick, and the Silver and Black might cross fingers he’s available at No. 56.

Auburn’s Montravius Adams could help if the Raiders are looking for more of a run stuffer. Clemson’s Carlos Watkins could also play multiple spots and could be available later in the middle rounds. Old Dominion’s Rashaad Coward also fits that mold and would be available in later rounds, though he hasn’t had much pass-rush production.

Controversial RB Joe Mixon impressed Raiders during pre-draft visit

Controversial RB Joe Mixon impressed Raiders during pre-draft visit

ALAMEDA – The Raiders visited with former Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon at the team’s Alameda facility on March 21.

General manager Reggie McKenzie came away impressed by the controversial figure notorious for punching a female in 2014 while at Oklahoma, who has spent significant portions of the pre-NFL draft process trying to show that violent incident caught on video doesn't define him.

“We thought he was a really good kid. He came off very well and explained each and everything, the questions that we had,” McKenzie said Friday in a pre-draft press conference. “He had an explanation and he was up front about everything. The kid really came across as a good kid.”

Mixon is also a premiere talent going pro, but there’s no telling how far his off-field issues will drop him in next week’s NFL draft. There’s debate where he’ll be taken, though many expect Mixon to go in the first two rounds.

He was not invited to the NFL scouting combine due to an incident where he punched victim Amelia Molitor and fractured several bones in her face. Mixon has made several pre-draft visits and meet with dozens at Oklahoma’s pro day trying to explain his actions and why he’s a safe pick in this year’s NFL draft.

Mixon and Molitor released a joint statement on Friday announcing the settlement of a civil suit, with both parties hoping to move on from an ugly incident after which the victim spoke out about being harassed.

“I am happy we were able to bring the lawsuit to an end,” Molitor said in a statement. “Joe and I were able to meet privately, without any attorneys, and talk about our experiences since that night. I am encouraged that we will both be able to move forward from here with our lives. From our private discussions I am satisfied that we are going to put this behind us and work towards helping others who may have found themselves in similar circumstances. I greatly appreciate his apology and I think the feelings he expressed were sincere. We both could have handled things differently. I believe if we had a chance to go back to that moment in time, the situation would not have ended the way it did.”

The running back is obviously a polarizing public figure, and the team that drafts him could take flak for selecting him.

“When stuff like this happens, whether it’s domestic violence or drunken driving, whatever issue that comes up, we’ll be prepared to answer questions,” McKenzie said. “We’ll do our research and if we make a decision, we’re going to prepare to have answers for each and every decision that we make.”

Raiders owner Mark Davis has taken a hardline stance against players involved in domestic violence incidents – this was technically assault of a man on a woman, as Mixon and Molitor were not in a relationship -- and he would have to okay a Mixon selection. The Raiders put considerable thought and research into select players with character concerns.

“What we do, we research everything. We get all of the information. We will not make a decision until all the information is in front of us,” McKenzie said. “With certain issues, like domestic violence, we consider that and we really look into everything that is surrounding that. Every decision will be well-researched so if it’s one way or the other, we are going to make it where that decision is based on all the facts, all the research and on the kid moving forward. But yes, we hold that very dear to what we do, as far as who we bring in, absolutely. We will not tolerate that at all.”