Everything written in a promotion to sell books should be taken with a grain of salt, but there’s a not-so-timely and sub-optimal passage in former ref Mike Pereira’s newest book about Roger Goodell that the NFL probably doesn’t appreciate.
Pereira, sampling his content skills at Deadspin, claims that Goodell “is not fond of officiating,” and it led to an altercation between the two.
Goodell is not fond of officiating, regardless of what he’s said in public, and he certainly didn’t like dealing with officiating lockouts, which the league has had to handle twice since 2001. That’s why the senior vice president of officiating has to stand up for his officials.
During a 2001 game in Cleveland, known as Bottlegate (because we just can’t find an original name for controversy in this country), Terry McAulay ended a game with 48 seconds remaining because angry Browns fans were heaving trash and bottles onto the field.
Goodell, not commissioner at the time but very much involved in the league office, was not pleased with how Pereira handled the situation, giving McAulay only a downgrade for the situation.
Goodell was not satisfied. He wanted McAulay suspended. Suspend him for what? Because he took the teams off the field temporarily while everything but the kitchen sink was being thrown at them? Granted, he shouldn’t have announced the game was over, and I gave him the accountability of the downgrade, but I wasn’t going to suspend him. I did, however, write him a letter that basically outlined that while the situation was unusual, he was not to do it again.
So the two are talking and arguing in a heated fashion in the league office, and that’s when, Pereira alleges, Goodell gave him a “hard shove.”
Goodell persisted, but I refused to give in. What happened next was anything but good. The conversation escalated, and when he was down in front of my office, with others present, he was so frustrated and, I’m sure, getting so much heat from Cleveland that he gave me a hard shove into my door to try and continue the argument about McAulay in my office. Quite frankly, it startled me, and I think it startled him a little because the discussion ended shortly after that.
The two would later engage in a situation following an Ed Hochuli call in 2008, when Goodell didn’t want Hochuli working the playoffs after he botched a call in a Week 2 Broncos-Chargers game (it was a botch, whatever he wrote — Hochuli egged the play in question, a Jay Cutler fumble that was ruled an incomplete pass).
It didn’t escalate to a shoving match — Goodell was commish at the time of that incident — so it shows there was plenty of interaction between the two following the initial alleged incident.
Make of it what you will, but it’s not great optics for this story to come out about Goodell in this climate. A cynic might say it is convenient that Pereira can put this story in the book because it will, in theory, sell more books.
Source: CBS Sports / Former NFL referee claims Roger Goodell once shoved him in an argument