Ugh. Who invited Capt. Killjoy? We don't invade his living room and jabber until he wants to shove his head in the oven.
Here we are, just hours from Thursday's NFL draft - one of the best annual football fan events - and the commish is trying to ruin everyone's good time. He's the guy who shows up to a potluck party with a bucket of cold gruel - gruel should always be served at room temperature - and a Droopy Dog frown on his face.
Goodell doesn't get it. Either he's receiving bad advice or he dreamed up this awful PR strategy on his own. People know the labor situation is ugly. They realize it's a long way from being resolved, despite U.S. District Court Judge Susan Richard Nelson's issuing a ruling that kind of/sort of/not really lifted the lockout. The fans understand all that. No need to rain on a parade that's been washed out for a while.
Football will return eventually. It will. In the meantime, rather than dwelling on who's right or wrong, Goodell ought to snap out of his funk. He should make the best of things and embrace the momentary madness before the NFL inevitably reverts to its usual business of legislating end-zone celebrations and issuing demerits for on-field fashion violations. The ongoing bedlam is fascinating, or at least different from the league's standard operating procedure. Goodell should spin the current carnival chaos as the opposite of how the stiff, over-starched NFL generally functions. It's a brief foray into anything-goes, no-one-knows-what-to-expect-next anarchy.
Commotion and uncertainty have always been the best parts of the NFL draft, anyway - not knowing which team will trade up or down or which poor pitiful player will be the last one to leave the on-site green room. The unscripted scenes at the draft are always the best. Remember in 2003 when the Vikings didn't get to the podium in time to make their pick and were passed over as a result? No one saw that coming. It was the unexpected laugh track of the weekend.
What we're looking at heading into the first night of this weekend's draft is Vikings-esque disorder and dysfunction, only on a grand, leaguewide scale. No one seems quite sure what the rules are - or, more specifically, if there are any rules. No one is sure which players will show up to the draft. At this point, if the potential draftees arrive after folding themselves into a single clown car, it shouldn't surprise anyone.
And therein lies the overlooked entertainment value in the NFL's labor crisis. The situation is a little like when you were a kid and your parents went away for the weekend. Supervision and lame in-house laws have gone on a short sabbatical. They'll return soon enough, despite Goodell's apocalyptic, the-end-is-nigh declaration. In the interim, put your feet up and hurl a whiskey bottle at the wall.
If Goodell was smart, he'd cut a spot that echoes one of those out-of-control campy car commercials: Hey fans, be sure to catch Roger Goodell's good-time football fire sale on ESPN. Everything must go, including any notion that the owners or players know what they're doing. This year, the only rule is that there are no rules! It's so krazy, we spelled it with a K.
Sadly, that's not Goodell's style. I fear his neckties choke off the let-loose impulses that might otherwise circulate to his brain. I never thought I'd write this, but Goodell should be more like Donald Trump. The Donald held a news conference on Wednesday in a giant airplane hangar with what looked like the old Airwolf helicopter in the background. It made for riveting television.
Among other things, Trump said that "when Celebrity Apprentice" is over, he'll "finally be free" to make an announcement about running for president. Makes sense. All good campaigns begin when reality shows end. (Trump didn't say which party he might join. Judging by the hair, I bet he restarts the Whig movement.)
Regardless of what you think about Trump, you have to admit he has a real understanding and appreciation for the showbiz component of public life. Every day is a production for him, every word uttered a sound bite. It's all theater in the end. If the commander-in-chief thing doesn't work out for Trump, maybe he can explain that to Goodell.
Contact columnist John Gonzalez at 215-854-2813 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/gonzophilly