The NFL has selected a new commissioner. Sadly, it's not Mayo Shattuck III.
He was my choice of the five finalists, because he's named Mayo Shattuck III. It's odd, catchy and would have been the best commissioner name since Ford Frick.
Unless Shattuck changes his name to Joe Lieberman and runs as an independent, it appears Roger Goodell will rule America's most vital sports entity. (If you doubt it is, imagine the panic this week if NFL games were carried over the Alaska Pipeline and our flow of John Madden were threatened.)
Considering his new status, we know very little about Goodell. He is 47, a sharp dresser and is probably a lot smarter than you or me. He spent the past 24 years working his way up the NFL ladder, so he knows where Al Davis has buried all the bodies.
Having a pedestrian name didn't hurt. The NFL loves understated conformity in everything from sock length to touchdown celebrations. That meant the write-in candidacy of Condoleezza "Crazy Legs" Rice never had a chance.
There's not a lot broken in the NFL, though Goodell will need diplomatic skills. Paul Tagliabue kept 32 headstrong owners counting their money in relative harmony.
He also kept labor peace with the players. Unlike baseball, management and the union realized they were partners and were willing to compromise for the overall good of the game. While Major League Baseball struck and staggered, the NFL zoomed to the pre-eminent place in our sports lives.
Goodell's job is to keep that going until every grown man in America wears an NFL jersey to church on Sunday. We don't necessarily want to expedite that fashion milestone, but there are several things Goodell could do to improve the game.
¢ Get rid of cheap field goals to encourage touchdowns. Anything inside 30 yards should count one point; 30 to 45 should be two points. Anything more gets three. (Exception - if it's a drop-kick from anywhere, it counts four points.)
¢ Put a team in Los Angeles. Not that we care about the NFL in L.A. We're just tired of reading about it.
Pass a behavior rule. For every three offseason arrests of players, teams must forfeit one game. At the current rate of fingerprinting, the Cincinnati Bengals will start the season 0-7.
¢ Come up with a reliable test for all performance-enhancing drugs.
¢ Switch overtime to a tiebreaker like the one they use in college, in which each team gets the ball on the 25-yard line. It's a joke when a team can win the coin toss, kick a 52-yard field goal and win the game.
¢ Dispense with pretense and stick bikini-clad Playboy Bunnies on the sideline to ask coaches how they feel.
¢ Retroactively fine Denver for drafting Maurice Clarett.
¢ Force the Bucs to get with the throwback program and wear their old creamsicle jerseys one game a year. We promise, it won't mean the return of Leeman Bennett.
¢ Lobby Congress to pass a law stating that if anyone publicly discusses his fantasy-football team for more than three seconds, he will be deported to Beirut immediately.
¢ Repeal the rule stating the ground can't cause a fumble. If a guy gets planted hard enough to cough up the ball, it should be fair game.
¢ Dispatch an NFL security detail to help O.J. finally find the real killers.
Those are good starting points for the new commissioner.