Thought Roger Goodell's response to Bountygate was harsh? Wait until the NFL's own judgment day, when the league has to answer for creating a culture of violence, writes Howard Bryant in ESPN The Magazine.
As the year 2011 comes to a close, the distance between the athlete and the public remains immense, but because of the nature of the Sam Hurd and Jerry Sandusky offenses seems more immediate than ever.
Michael Vick and Ben Roethlisberger both survived image-crushing incidents and are thriving again in the NFL. But a new life in football is going to be difficult for Plaxico Burress, who will be released from prison Monday.
The already-complicated relationship we have with the players we love to watch is even murkier during the NFL lockout. Perhaps it's because fans aren't yet comfortable with the athlete as a business equal of ownership.
On balance, the system worked. Michael Vick and society both won. Vick served his time in the federal penitentiary. Then he was given a second chance. He was not handed an NFL starting job, but had to earn it.
What passes for excitement in the NFL today happens on Park Avenue in the commissioner's office. Roger Goodell is the person to watch in the NFL, on every issue, with every team. The NFLPA is losing the battle for the public.