Roger Goodell wakes up every morning with the weight of the world — or at least ESPN — on his shoulders. The NFL — the lifeblood of America, our annual distraction from economic woe, political quagmire and two wars (or is it three?) — is on the brink of a season lost to a multibillion-dollar labor dispute, and Goodell’s legacy may rest on his ability to break the gridiron gridlock before a single kickoff is missed.
(If the 2011 NFL season is canceled, Ron Jaworski reportedly has told friends he will defect to Canada.)
Here now, a rare inside look at a typical day in the life of the NFL commissioner, grappling moment by moment with the fate of Sports Nation:
7:35 a.m.: Arises, gazes into bathroom mirror and says out loud , “I am Roger Goodell, commissioner of the National Football League.”
7:45: Daily breakfast of strawberries, truffles, a Crepe Suzette and champagne.
8:13: Sets up TiVo for “Around the Horn” and “The Borgias.”
8:27: Cancels weekly foot massage due to minor fungal problem.
9:10: Alphabetizes file of players currently on suspension for drug violations.
9:20: Alphabetizes file of players fined last season for illegal hits.
9:30: Alphabetizes file of players detained by law enforcement in the past 12 months.
10:02: Fires gardener when he catches him watching MLS games instead of watering lawn.
10:40: Meets with tailor to decide what color wool coat to wear at next court appearance — light grey, dark grey, charcoal grey or Rozelle grey.
11:07: Tells priest — at confession — that he really doesn’t care about the fans.
11:36: Bids $47,800 on eBay for Paulie Walnuts’s pinky ring.
11:53: Calls Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, tells him off the record that a settlement is “impending.”
11:59: Calls back SI’s Peter King, tells him off the record that he meant a settlement is “improbable.”
12:05 p.m.: Monthly lunch with Paul Tagliabue; loses coin flip and has to pick up the check.
1:18: Contacts Dan Rooney because he’s having trouble getting first-class upgrade on Aer Lingus for annual golf vacation in Dublin.
1:42: Impulsively tells driver to pull over into Men’s Wearhouse so he can pick up new suit for NFL draft.
2:07: Asks wife Jane — for the umpteenth time — to call him “Commissioner” outside of the house, too.
2:15: Makes prank call to DeMaurice Smith, telling him he’s exceeded his cellphone usage for the month and must buy a higher-tiered rate plan.
2:17: Smiles devilishly as he lets Jerry Jones’ s call go to voicemail.
2:19: Calls James Harrison “to shoot the breeze.” Keeps talking after Harrison hangs up on him.
2:21: “Get Mubarak on the phone — we’re thinking of playing a game in Cairo!”
3:10: Plays squash with Dick Ebersol at the Princeton Club.
4:16: Confides to manicurist that “personal seat licenses are the greatest thing since the advent of the pay toilet.”
4:40: Asks NFL Films to send him “all available footage” of NFLPA player reps.
5:02: Berates family butler for misplacing croquet set.
5:29: Can’t find Brooks Brothers bowling shirt for NFL Network’s Lucky Strike Lanes soiree.
6:10: Fishes out year-old USA Today from backyard pool.
6:33: Asks personal assistant to book him on “Larry King Live.”
6:55: While nobody’s looking, pours a shot of Louis XIII cognac into his cup of tea.
7:30: Monthly consult with David Stern in the back seat of the NBA commissioner’s Lincoln Continental at that abandoned lot under the Brooklyn Bridge.
9:14: Rereads Machiavelli’s “The Prince.”
10:20: Sends text to Ray Lewis: “Who’s ur daddy?”
10:44: Sneaks into den, dresses up in his private collection of vintage Neville Chamberlain outfits.
Midnight: Takes nightly hot tub while Jeff Pash feeds him grapes.
Q. I see where Mike Sexton made a World Poker Tour final table, so he won’t be able to announce it as he normally would. What would happen if you ever made a World Series of Poker Main Event final table? (Mike Matthews; Oxon Hill)
A. Pigs would fly.
Q. Re: Kobe Bryant’s slur directed toward referee Bennie Adams — is Black Mamba getting public-speaking tutoring from Charles Barkley? (Steven Richards; Albany, N.Y.)
A. In Bryant’s defense, I believe Adams had just called him a “cluckin’ maggot.”
Q. Since many Middle Eastern rulers now have to find other work, is it safe to assume that Joe Paterno is the world’s longest-reigning dictator? (John Koch; Pittsburgh)
A. Though semi-retired, Fidel Castro’s got him by seven years.
Q. Is there any truth to the rumor that you’re planning to lock out your readers unless we agree to send more questions and take an 18-cent pay cut? (William Murray; Chicago)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
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