Could Lady Gaga Be The End Of NFL Commissioner Goodell?
Last week started off with a heavy political atmosphere in Houston as the Patriots came to town. The liberal members of the press immediately fell on the "triumvirate" of the New England Patriots, owner Bob Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick and star quarterback Tom Brady. After all, Donald Trump threw their names around for votes even though they preferred to support him in a much more stealthy fashion.
To my surprise, NFL league commissioner Roger Goodell kind of extended an olive branch to them by completely squashing any interview intentions of bringing up support for President Donald Trump, the protests across the nation or the 2016 elections. Goodell is not exactly the most welcomed man in New England as he seemed to go way out of his way to humiliate and publicly punish Tom Brady in the now infamous and still unsolved "Deflategate", but this might set a new tone.
Perhaps Goodell is trying to make the handing of the Superbowl MVP trophy to Brady, less awkward if this occurs (I believe it will in about 6 hours from now). Patriots owner Bob Kraft had been a staunch advocate for Goodell since he began as commissioner but that relationship has been disintegrated over the scandal and more importantly, over the handling of the investigation and public humiliation of his greatest athlete in Tom Brady.
Goodell has seen better days as the leader of a league that most certainly has seen growth under him, but he gets mostly failing grades over the way he has handled numerous scandals regarding the behavior of league players and he is also overly aware of the 8% drop in viewership in 2016.
Were I him, I might be a bit more than a little concerned over what Lady Gaga has in store for her much anticipated Halftime show in Houston later today. As the Superbowl LI choice for halftime show, Goodell is taking a risk here. She has promised some political content which could be extremely turbulent for Goodell. Unlike Kraft, Brady and Belichick, Goodell had taken a clear public side in last year's elections, supporting Secretary Clinton.
Sports, for millions of Americans is an escape, a release from the realities of life which include the political realities of the world and their nation. The left in America has eroded many walls of acceptable behavior in the political process (so has President Trump, no arguing that) but Lady Gaga has a serious example of outrage which bodes concern. While performing for Democratic nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton, late last year, she paraded on stage in a Nazi, actually a Gestapo outfit, strongly implying that this was what President Trump is really like.
If she goes on some untenable, irrational rant against Trump, against American "fascism" etc, this could be the beginning of the end for mega-sponsors of the Superbowl. At $5 Million Per Minute, this could be catastrophic. The average NFL fan is not a far left lunatic nor wants any political lectures thrown in their faces while they suck down their Bud Lights and buffalo chicken. Fans want and expect a performance worthy of the Superbowl lights but nothing more.
Roger Goodell is a famous supporter of the Democratic Party. Lady Gaga was not announced as the performer until after she "heiled Hitler" for the Democrats in attacking Donald Trump.
An eight percent drop in 2016, could mean a much higher drop in 2017 if the viewers see Goodell as a liberal using the platform like the Superbowl for propaganda. The last thing the owners want is to be dragged into a political mess when what has worked for them is a "wall of separation" between sport and state. Lady Gaga, the world is going to be watching. Look fantastic, dance great but please just shut up and sing.
Post game edit:
Lady Gaga was great!, No politics. But, you don't have to pinch me, I know I'm not dreaming. There's no way my brain can muster the Hollywood comeback that the Patriots came up with last night to capture their 5th title....holy crap!
Ken Pittman is a talk show host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard Saturdays from 9am-Noon. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.