Roger Goodell Claims 'We Don't See' Where the Dolphins are Tanking


SourceCall it a tank, call it a strategic reset.

Call it whatever you want, but the Dolphins’ decision to strip their roster down to the studs with an eye on the future has unleashed a wave of criticism among pundits and ex-players.

But talk to the people whose opinions matter the most — NFL team owners and executives — and you’ll get a far different perspective.

League power brokers were in Fort Lauderdale this week for the NFL’s fall meetings. And those who stopped to chat with the Miami Herald were largely understanding, and even supportive, of the team’s reset. …

”I think they’ve got a great strategic plan,” said Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie. …

“I don’t know that they’re intentionally trying to be bad,” [Falcons’ owner Arthur] Blank said. “I think it’s a question for [Dolphins owner Stephen] Ross. If it’s intentional, it’s not healthy for the league and not healthy for our fans. I’m not sure it’s intentional.” …

Miami’s payroll, $135 million, is by far the smallest in the league and a good $50 million below the league average. They’ve traded away three of their best players since the end of the preseason.

Industry insiders estimate that more than half the players on the roster would not be in the league if the Dolphins didn’t employ them. …

When asked if that might change if a bunch of teams start punting on seasons in an attempt to land a high pick, [Roger] Goodell responded:

“The good news for us is we don’t see that. I don’t think the league has ever been more competitive than it is today. …  For us, the competitiveness of our game is obviously critical.”

Look, I have no moral objection to tanking. I’m not asking for a draft lottery. Plenty of franchises suck all the time without any incentive. And if you want to fail intentionally, that’s your right as an American. Or as an oppressed citizen of any brutal, authoritarian regime that enjoys the support of Comrade LeBron. Hell, if it wasn’t for the Colts blatant effort to be atrociously awful in 2011, they’d never have won that AFC Finalists banner in 2014. Sometimes it’s a viable business strategy.

But don’t simultaneously tell us competitiveness is good, tanking is bad, and then solve the problem of a team obviously being non-competitive and tanking as hard as fuck by denying they’re doing it. It’s insulting. It’s condescending. It’s a disservice to those tens of thousands of empty turquoise seats at Hard Shark Joe Player Pro Life Land Park. The people who are refusing to support this dog’s breakfast they’re being served on Sunday’s deserve the simple respect of the people in charge admitting what’s going on here.

I mean, look at how hard the Dolphins have jammed themselves down at the intersection of the Y-axis of terribleness and the Z-axis of shittiness:

If they want us to believe that’s just a coincidence, they are taking a liquid Mirolax dump down the consumer’s back and telling us it’s raining. That level of futility doesn’t just happen. It takes work. It takes a coordinated effort. You can’t halfass it, or else you might end up like those Suck for Luck Colts, accidentally winning a couple of games. So let’s just acknowledge the success of the Dolphins’ plan, rather than pretend it’s some other thing.

But this is so typical of NFL management during Roger Goodell’s unholy reign of terror. It’s Oceania in “1984,” where everyone talks in Newspeak, Freedom is Slavery, Black is White, and being dead last in the league in talent, payroll and every single statistical category – by far – is Competitiveness. Because he “doesn’t see” it, so therefore it can’t be true.

Again, I’m not saying the Dolphins should be forced to be less than perfectly awful at everything. I just can’t sit quietly and let Goodell use it as yet another excuse to lie to us like we’re assholes.