The “big 4” commissioners have to put up with a lot of scrutiny. They are constantly booed at hearings and drafts and they must work with their players associations when making rule changes for the better of the game. Despite being the leader of a good service, they are always criticized by fans.
Roger Goodell: A
Goodell took over the NFL in 2006, and ever since he took over ratings have soared like never before. He took over a league that wasn’t far from a prison. No disrespect to Paul Tagliabue, but he was just too soft as a disciplinarian. One year later, Goodell put into place the “Personal Conduct Policy” to help preserve the reputation of the NFL. Players used to get arrested relentlessly with little to no on-the-field punishments. Goodell has brought the hammer down numerous times on many players. Many fans feel that Goodell is making the NFL too soft with the new rule changes; however, that is not Goodell’s doing, that is the NFLPA. Probably the best move by Goodell was placing a rookie salary cap. No more JaMarcus Russell rookies signing a $68 million deal.
Also remember this, every other current commissioner has missed games due to lockouts and strikes, but not Goodell’s league.
David Stern: B+
Stern takes a lot of Heat, but he’s done a lot of good things for a long period of time. He took over in 1984 and is the longest tenured commissioner in sports. Stern has a much harder job than Goodell, because the NBA just isn’t as popular as the NFL. Despite not being as popular as the NFL and having to endure four lockouts, the NBA has not missed a single Championship under Stern’s watch. Pretty impressive considering he’s been the commissioner for about 30 years. Stern has also punished players for abusive on court behavior and put in place a better dress code policy. Since taking over no other commissioner has done more to broaden their leagues popularity internationally like Stern has.
Unfortunately Stern’s resume isn’t perfect. There’s has been much officiating controversy with “fixed games” and scandals. The NBA certainly isn’t as physical defensively as it once was.
Gary Bettman: C
Bettman has the hardest job of the four commissioners. The NHL isn’t nearly as popular as the other three and generating revenue is tough. He has been the NHL commissioner since 1993 and his biggest stain is a cancelled 2004-05 season. Bettman has not been able to come up with nearly enough long term ideas or solutions to increase ratings and some of the fighting is getting out of hand. The last half season locket came unexpectedly because it was just after a huge revenue was generated by the league.
Given that Bettman has the hardest job of the four and he has lasted 20 years, he has been about average.
Bud Selig: D-
Bud Selig took over MLB and the most popular league in 1992.
Where is there to start? His first issue was the 1994 MLB season. Yes, the entire season. Montreal Expos and New York Yankees fans remember this because both of their teams were in first place. Failure to reach a deal with the players union resulted in the cancellation in the remainder of the season and World Series. Then there was the infamous 2002 MLB all-star game that ended in a 7-7 tie. Fans chanted “refund,” “let them play” and “Bud must go!” That game wasn’t a big deal because of the winner, loser or homefield advantage. It was a notorious baseball incident because the fans were robbed. How about 2008? Opening day in MLB starts in Japan. Are you kidding me? Americas past time for 100 years is opening in a completely different continent? This is completely inexcusable. Opening day for MLB began when Americans were still sleeping.
It’s amazing Selig is even allowed to be the commissioner considering he used to be the owner of the Milwaukee Brewers. Then to add a little more fuel to the fire he completely ignored the entire steroid era. Players are getting punished extremely lightly, late, or not at all for cheating. Unlike the other three commissioners, Selig has not adapted to the 21st century technology. Selig’s small expansion of interleague play and playoffs is a good step forward. Small and late, but good.
When Selig took over MLB in 1992 it was the most popular sports league in America. Now it is in a fight for third place with the NBA.