This article raises the interesting question of how Roger Goodell will be received in New Orleans for the Super Bowl in February.
I’ve thought a lot about that all season long, initially imagining the commissioner having to show his sheepish face in front a hostile home crowd and the defiant team he’d all but disassembled with his heavy-handed punishments. That possibility has pretty much subsided, and the likelihood has increased that a typically sterile, corporate neutral crowd will fill the Superdome. Still, I hold on to the image of Goodell being lustily booed at the coin toss. No matter how neutral the crowd, I can’t help but suspect boos will manage to rain down (even if Goodell takes the favored route of tyrants and disgraced leaders and goes incognito).
Frankly, I’ll be disappointed if anything less happens. A big argument going around is, how should the city of New Orleans react to Goodell’s visit? Some say he deserves anything coming to him. That’s obviously, like the man himself, excessive. Nothing good can arise from violence or threats thereof. Others say the city should shower him with kindness, to show that New Orleans is a classy city. But I find that unsatisfying.
I think the answer lies in between. The people of New Orleans should ensure his safety and respect him as a human being. They should do so because it’s the compassionate thing to do, not because they’re worried about losing future Super Bowls or whatever. New Orleans has an enduring defiance, and that’s a huge part of what makes the city so remarkable and memorable. They’re not beholden to the political machinations and threats of autocrats who screwed them sideways. They’re not worried other fans will disrespect them for voicing their grievances, especially given how some of those grievances have been reinforced in recent days.
So I ask my New Orleans friends to remind the nation why the Big Easy is a fun, inclusive city like no other, by welcoming Goodell and the NFL brass to the Superdome as they would any other guest. After all, people are people and it’s ultimately just football.
But if you refuse to serve him, that’s fine by me. And you’d better boo your heads off.
Because he deserves that too.