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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Good(ell)fellas: The NFL commissioner’s, team owners’ literal mob mentality

Good(ell)fellas: The NFL commissioner’s, team owners’ literal mob mentality

The NFL's Mob connections
Publish Date: 01/25/2021
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis

Right off the top, I want to make this statement: Roger Goodell is not the NFL commissioner; he’s more like the leader of a rich mob out of control. The NFL’s powers that be do not care if justice is served, and they do not care one bit about players, retired or active. They are a perfect example of what happens when you let a rich corporation run amok. In many cases, NFL franchise owners are some of the richest men in the entire world and it’s too bad they act like it. These individuals have given the commissioner leave to do as he pleases – and what Goodell has done is to try to kill the most popular sport in this country.

The case of Ezekiel Elliott

With attorney Jeffrey Kessler leading the way, the NFLPA filed a petition on behalf of Ezekiel Elliott asking the Eastern District Court of Texas to overturn any forthcoming suspension ruling from Henderson. Elliott was initially suspended six games on Aug. 11; his appeal hearing began this week and ran for three days. A ruling is expected either Friday or Monday at the latest and there was believed to be a “real chance” that the suspension was reduced by multiple games.

The petition claims that Elliott’s suspension, even after appeal, was a “product of a process that has already deprived the Union and Elliott of fundamental fairness,” “one of the most fundamentally unfair arbitral processes conceivable” and part of a “League-orchestrated conspiracy by senior NFL executives … to hide critical information.”

Furthermore, the petition states that the alleged conspiracy to “hide critical information” was designed to hide said information from Roger Goodell, his outside advisors on the Elliott discipline, the NFLPA, Elliott himself, the Dallas Cowboys organization and, of course, NFL fans.

All of this centers on “The Elliott report.” The Elliott report was the NFL’s year-long investigation into what really happened between Elliott and his girlfriend. Kia Roberts, one of the lead investigators on the case, ultimately concluded that the NFL should not suspend Elliott at all. Roberts was the only investigator who interviewed Elliott’s girlfriend, doing so on six occasions; she concluded that no punishment should be handed out to Elliott.

When the NFL and Goodell held their hearing on the matter, Roberts’s statement was not allowed to be heard and Roberts herself was barred from testifying or attending. It seems Goodell wanted to control everything the way he so often does.


No clear evidence that Tom Brady deflated balls prior to the 2015 AFC title game exists, nor does any clear evidence that the balls he used were deflated enough to give him any real advantage. None of that, however, prevented Goodell from picking the smallest possible fight with possibly the league’s single biggest star and then putting on his novelty-sized Inspector Asshole hat to pursue the “case” all the way to the outer ends of the legal universe.

Brady was never proven to have done anything wrong, but, since he wouldn’t turn his cell phone over to NFL investigators to pore over, he was suspended for four regular-season games anyway. Most people let it go because they don’t like Brady and the New England Patriots; too bad for the NFL it didn’t matter because the Patriots still won the Super Bowl.


Of course, the whole reason Goodell reportedly overreacted during Deflategate was because he underreacted during Spygate – when the Patriots were caught videotaping rival teams’ play signals – and thus took flak from his mob. During that scandal, Goodell ordered the Patriots to send all evidentiary videotape to the league office. Those tapes were then summarily destroyed, (no, really: Goodell destroyed the evidence), which the NFL’s chief spokesman/propagandist explained by saying they wanted to “level the playing field” (no, really: he said that)!

Ray Rice’s domestic abuse

Before film of the Ray Rice incident came out, Goodell based the original flimsy punishment of a two-game suspension on a hearing that included Ray Rice’s wife, Janay, who testified on Rice’s behalf, and had no other women present—no experts on spousal abuse, no female NFL executives. Just the wife of the defendant. Sounds like a pretty fair hearing, right?

Then the video came out and the whole world exploded! Goodell already knew what was on the tape as Rice’s lawyer already had it in his possession, so I find it hard to believe that Goodell had never seen it. Goodell then extended the suspension to indefinite. If the public had never seen the video, Rice would have missed just two games. As always, Goodell is ruled by public opinion.

The insane suspension of Terrell Pryor

Terrell Pryor was busted for receiving illegal gifts while at Ohio State, including a tattoo. When the NCAA suspended him, he declared for the draft. So when Pryor gets to the NFL, what does Goodell do? He suspends Pryor for five games for an incident that happened in college!

Goodell charges the military to honor the military

In the span of four years, the US Armed Forces paid the NFL more than $700,000 for on-field tributes to those same Armed Forces, tributes that every fan surely assumed the NFL did due to its genuine respect and affection for our military. It took a Congressional oversight committee led by John McCain(!) and Jeff Flake to expose the paid salute promotion. In response to the uproar, the NFL refunded roughly 10% of that money. (And incidentally, Colin Kaepernick is the one that’s unpatriotic…)

The NFL’s No More Ads

Remember those No More ads, where NFL players got all choked up on camera because wife-beating was such a difficult topic to discuss? Thought those ads might help raise money for shelters and counseling programs, did you? Nope. In fact, those ads were strictly for raising domestic violence awareness rather than domestic violence survivors, as implied in the ad. No More mugs and shirts were available to buy at $20 apiece on the NFL’s website, but the money didn’t go to domestic abuse survivors. Where did the money go, you may ask…? I have no idea, but “straight to the NFL” seems like it would be a good guess.

Bounty-gate BS

The evidence in the New Orleans Bounty-gate case was soft at best: This was proven when Goodell put former NFL commissioner (and, at the time, his friend) Paul Tagliabue in charge of hearing the Saints’ appeal. When Tagliabue overturned Goodell’s initial decision, a friendship ended.

Ruining quality of play via the 2011 Player Lockout

The players got crushed at the bargaining table, giving up 5% of league revenues from the previous contract and agreeing to a rookie salary cap that has resulted in older players getting cut everywhere, which in turn has gradually diluted the quality of play over the last five seasons. Goodell successfully cast ego-driven athletes as the enemy and turned the NFL’s bloodless profitability into its star attraction. That was five years ago, the league has suffered horribly for it ever since – Go figure.

As it turns out, what’s best for the owners is NOT always what’s best for the sport. In all probability, these negotiations won Goodell tenure for life.

Goodell breaks the refs

The very next year, Goodell low-balled the referees. Here’s a thought: Maybe if Goodell didn’t treat all NFL employees (and contractors, which is what the NFL’s refs essentially are) like shit, maybe they would perform better because since the 2012 lockout officiating has just gotten worse.

NFL Mob Connections

In the early 1920s, one George Halas turned to Charles Bidwill, a bootlegger, gambler, racetrack owner, and associate of Chicago’s Al (Scarface) Capone’s mob, to finance the Chicago Bears. Later, Bidwill bought the Chicago Cardinals. The Bidwill family now owns the Arizona Cardinals.

In 1925, bookie Tim Mara bought the New York Giants. His heirs still have half the team. Notorious gambler Art Rooney took over the Pittsburgh Steelers. His family still controls the team; the Rooney empire is purportedly breaking up so that the racetracks and casinos won’t be mixed with the football team.

In the sport’s first half-century, one team after another was owned by high rollers, often with sordid connections. The Cleveland Browns were owned by crime syndicate bookmaker Arthur (Mickey) McBride, head of the Continental Racing Wire, the mob’s gambling news service. The U.S. Senate’s Kefauver Committee called that news service “Public Enemy Number One.”

In 1961, the team was sold to Art Modell, who, among many things, was a partner in a horse-racing stable with one Morris (Mushy) Wexler, whom the Kefauver Committee named one of the “leading hoodlums” in McBride’s wire service. In 1969, Modell got married in the Las Vegas digs of William (Billy) Weinberger, president of Caesars Palace, whose hidden owners included such dignitaries as Tony (Big Tuna) Accardo, Sam (Momo) Giancana, and Vincent (Jimmy Blue Eyes) Alo. When he died in 1996, the Las Vegas Sun called Weinberger “the dean of casino gaming.”

A 1969 happening spotlights the National Football League’s blatant hypocrisy. New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath invested in a Manhattan bar. The National Football League told him to sell his shares because the joint had ties to big-time gamblers and unsavory individuals. The league said nothing about Modell’s ties — or the unsavory ties of numerous other team owners. (The late Carroll Rosenbloom, a high roller with a major interest in a mobbed-up Bahamian casino, owned the Baltimore Colts and Los Angeles Rams at different times. His second wife and widow, entertainer Georgia Frontiere — who had been married five times before latching on to Rosenbloom — inherited control of the Rams and moved them to St. Louis when she got a stadium 96 percent funded by taxpayers.)

There have been too many incidents to recount here. The Youngstown DeBartolo family, long involved in casinos and racetracks, owns the San Francisco 49ers. In the late 1990s, Edward DeBartolo Jr., then head of the 49ers, paid a Louisiana governor $400,000 to get a riverboat casino license. The governor went to the slammer; DeBartolo got a wrist slap but had to leave the 49ers. The family still runs the team, while DeBartolo Jr. runs the company that is based back in Youngstown.

Not surprisingly, San Diego has been in the middle of the NFL/gambling love affair. The late Pete Rozelle, Rancho Santa Fe resident and onetime head of the NFL, deftly tiptoed around team owners’ mob/gambling ties, Rozelle stepped on players suspected of consorting with gamblers (but never told them not to associate with their mobbed-up team owners).

The Chargers were founded by longtime gambler Barron Hilton, who had both a business and personal relationship with Los Angeles attorney Sidney Korshak, who was described by law enforcement officials as “the link between the legitimate business world and organized crime.” A later owner was Eugene Klein, another Korshak friend with mob and gambling associations. The late Al Davis, a former Chargers coach who wound up owning the Oakland Raiders, was a business associate of San Diego casino owner Allen Glick. Davis’s survivors still control the Raiders. Several Chargers players got into deals with Glick. (Most of this info was obtained by reading Dan Modela’s book about NFL corruption that was written in 1989).


They make their own rules. They’re not governed by anybody else…The owners put everybody in. Roger [Goodell], [Paul] Tagliabue, everybody… They are saying Roger gets $20 million a year… Why shouldn’t he? Look what they are paying the players, it’s ridiculous the money the owners make compared to the players. Remember players average just three years in the league and most are not millionaires when their careers are over, and when the player’s careers are done the NFL does very little to help the players that made them billions of dollars. In the end, the NFL was basically started by the Mob and Gamblers, so why be surprised today that it’s run that way? The only thing that could possibly save the NFL would be an NFLPA that would stand up for the players, but we all know that will never happen.  

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