This is not a column targeting Roger Goodell. Okay, fine, maybe it is just a little. That said, I’ll freely admit that Goodell, and the NFL owners as well, deserve credit for the state of the game in a monetary sense, most notably the television rights deals. However, they also deserve a ton of blame for how player discipline is handled, most notably domestic violence (not much has changed since the first RW column on this topic back in 2015), and also on how they’re handling the future of football. Enter Amy Trask.
A little about Ms. Trask. Born and raised in L.A., she moved up north and received her B.A. from Cal in Political Science. She moved back down for law school and received her J.D. from USC. After an internship with the Raiders and then a brief stint in private practice as a lawyer, Ms. Trask returned to the Raiders in 1987 to her beloved world of football. She climbed the ladder within the Raiders organization and was eventually named Chief Executive in 1997. She left the Raiders in 2013 and currently serves as a football analyst for CBS and a Chairman of the Board for basketball’s Big3. Not surprisingly to those who follow her on Twitter, Ms. Trask has always been beloved wherever she has gone.
Looking at the broader landscape, the NFL has a significant PR problem on its hands. It is clear to the public that there is no rhyme or reason as to how player punishments are meted out. Not to mention the fact that acts of domestic violence seem not to matter as long as the player is good enough on the field. Remember Greg Hardy getting a “second chance?” I do. . .The whole system needs not only a gear shift, but an injection of credibility. Someone who will have the players’ best interests at heart but also be able to relate to the owners and make sure they are placated as well.
Moreover, the NFL needs someone who will be able to lead the way into the future of the game. Times are changing with regard to how players, and parents of young children, think about health. CTE is not going anywhere, nor is opioid addiction. There needs to be more thought into how the NFL will adjust to the medical risks associated with the game.
Furthermore, while people still tune in on Sundays to watch the NFL in droves, the numbers have been ebbing. Some point to Colin Kaepernick and how people on both sides of social justice issues are boycotting. That may be true; but, the problem as it pertains to ten, twenty, thirty years from now is much more complex.
A combination of years of bad PR mixed with a players’ health crisis is going to take ingenuity to come out from under. Additionally, with streaming becoming the avenue of choice for media consumption, new deals are going to have to be struck. Someone with a fresh outlook is just what the doctor ordered.
Therefore, why not turn to someone who worked in a front office but clearly also loves the game of football, and the players who play it? Amy Trask will be able to walk into the rooms of both the owners and the players without seeming like she is fully in the pocket of one or the other. Moreover, she has shown in her career that she can adapt, lead, and create in multiple realms.
Long story short, Ms. Trask is eminently qualified. She presided over some great NFL teams and let’s not forget whom she worked with and reported to: Al Davis. If anyone knew how to maneuver in and around the league, it was Al Davis. If Ms. Trask had Al Davis’ respect, she definitely should have yours. Plus, she negotiates like a girl (click the link before you take offense). Amy Trask should be the NFL’s next commissioner, and hopefully that time comes sooner rather than later.