As to Goodell’s clumsy assertion that the research partially funded by the NFL will “make everything safer, including our military,” well, the unsolvable problem Goodell has is that he runs a hyper-profitable entertainment entity that depends vitally on the destruction of the human body for a substantial part of its entertainment function. There is simply nothing Goodell can do to change that, and asserting that his league’s dilatory efforts to make that destruction less inevitable — while, at the same time, fighting hard against a whole stack of lawsuits being brought by former players who are living twilight lives because of the destruction in question — will somehow benefit the troops makes Goodell sound silly. The comparison is morally chaotic. People who join the military risk their lives because what they do is considered essential to the survival of a nation. NFL players, for all the macho talk about “going to war” that you hear, do not make that same bargain. What they do is considered essential to a football league. It is not the same thing at all.
Not that the research isn’t in many ways essential. It’s just that Goodell seems to be reaching for a PR bonanza here in a way that diminishes the importance of the work.
Right now, there is a rising chorus of people making the incontestable point that being a football fan makes you morally complicit in cases of early-onset Alzheimer’s and suicidal depressions. That’s the bargain Goodell has to reconfigure with fans, and telling people the research you and your league are helping to support — research, it should always be noted, that you were blackjacked into doing by public opinion and, likely, by lawyers as well — is some sort of national-defense priority makes you look as though you are, at best, missing the point and, at worst, using The Troops as a distraction.
—Charles Pierce on Roger Goodell.