Last week SB Nation interviewed NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith, the head of the NFLPA. I've been processing what each had to say, what it was like talking to them and my impressions of each after the conversation ended. Here's our story on Smith and here's Goodell. I've got more stuff coming on some of the details and all that but these are just some impressions I had after the calls were over.
Here are a few things I took away from it:
Goodell and Smith are complete opposites. What I took away from the conversation with Goodell and Smith is that they're complete opposites. Goodell almost seems to be a bit of a low-talker (think Seinfeld), the tone of his voice doesn't change and he seems confident and PR-conscious of what he says. Smith comes off as more aggressive, clearly has a gift of gab and understands his audience when trying to make his argument. Both are convincing. Within minutes, Smith said NFL negotiator Jeff Pash has a "casual relationship with the truth" while, when asked about Adrian Peterson's slavery comments, Goodell simply said he was a great player and declined to give us a great headline like Smith did.
Each is doing what they feel is in the best interest of their constituents. For Smith, that's the NFL players and for Goodell, that's the NFL owners. They're both passionate about what they do and who they're representing. I try to keep this in mind when processing what each man says. Neither is a bad guy. They've just got different ways of going about securing the most leverage for their side. I never got the feeling that the relationship between Smith and Goodell is personal. Now, Smith and Pash on the other hand....
It's hard to get the full story. Smith took us on a lengthy journey of explaining the last offer the NFL made and why it was a bad deal for the players. If he gave us the complete story, then it does indeed look like a bad deal for the players. However, there are always two sides to every story and Goodell obviously painted a different picture. For me that's part of the reason this is such a hard fight to judge. One side tells us one thing, and then the other gives us a completely different interpretation of the same event. Who's right? That's for me to figure out and, admittedly, it's a hard thing to do. Luckily (for my reputation), I'm not alone. Most stories you read about the lockout are incredibly one-sided because, as I mentioned, they can have completely different interpretations of the same situation.
It's pretty cool that they come straight to the fans. That's one of the interesting side-stories to this. In the midst of the biggest story each man will likely ever go through, they took a few minutes to talk to SB Nation which we market as speaking directly to the fans because, well, we're fans.