A trying season has thrust NFL commissioner Roger Goodell further into the national spotlight, and the intense scrutiny has prompted a profile of Goodell from Gabriel Sherman of GQ.
The article paints New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft as a quasi-deputy commissioner, asserts Goodell berated employees for being overpaid and includes an anecdote from a former employer of Goodell's who says he used to moon people.
Kraft's influence on Goodell is so impactful that at least one NFL executive refers to him as "the assistant commissioner," according to Sherman.
Goodell rarely went out front to face tough interviews. But Kraft was one of Goodell's closest confidants among the NFL's 32 owners, and his fiercest advocate and defender. As a member of the league's compensation committee, Kraft has vigorously defended Goodell's eye-popping $44-million pay package, and in the wake of the TMZ leak, he personally called owners and lobbied them to issue statements backing the commissioner, according to a senior league source.
The article goes on to describe the start of Goodell's time in office, during which he would berate employees for being overpaid.
At NFL headquarters there was suddenly a new mood, a brasher, more money-minded approach. The new commissioner demanded loyalty from staffers and even questioned their value. "He thought everyone was overpaid," a former senior executive told me. "He always told me I was overpaid." Another told me: "He gave me a hard time about my contract. I was like, The f--- you doing? This is peanuts."
On a lighter note, Sherman spoke with a former employer of Goodell's from his time at Washington & Jefferson College.
To earn extra money during his junior and senior years, he tended bar at the Landmark, a popular spot in the shadow of the football stadium. Tim Foil, the Landmark's former owner, remembered Goodell as a hard worker and a bit of a prankster. "He'd do crazy things behind the bar," Foil recalled. "One wall of my bar was a glass walk-in cooler, and he'd like to go in there and flash people. He'd give 'em the old butt."