Preseason Cup O' Joe

Theismann takes a look at the new commissioner, quarterbacks and his new gig as a commentator on MNF.

Updated: September 2, 2006, 7:29 PM ET
By Joe Theismann | ESPN Insider
Hail to the new chief

I don't think you can talk about the new boss (Roger Goodell) of the NFL until you talk about the old one. Everyone should admire the leadership Paul Tagliabue showed during his tenure as the head of the NFL.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images NORTHBROOK, IL - AUGUST 08: Roger Goodell (L), the NFL's chief operating officer, speaks at a press conference after being selected to succeed Paul Tagliabue (R) as NFL commissioner during the NFL owners meeting on August 8, 2006 at the Renaissance Hote
A lot of wonderful things happened for the players and the owners while the NFL was under his control. Tagliabue tried his best to protect the players on and off the field by helping to institute a series of rules that made sure that the game is played on an even playing field and that fans won't see gruesome hits because of a lack of protection from the rules or the equipment. He also instituted a terrific drug program that might seem unfair to some but is set up to protect players from the vagaries of off-the-field life by ensuring they know they are going to pay a heavy price and potentially face the loss of their livelihood if they dabble in drugs. Finally, Tagliabue has the league in a position where the players have increased salaries but the largeness of those salaries doesn't handcuff the owners and keep them from making money like in other sports.

The challenge for Goodell will be to maintain the status quo within the ownership groups. He has inherited a league that is in excellent shape and must find a way to maintain that while also moving forward. Tagliabue did a great job during his tenure of always making sure the owners understood that if the league did well, the owners would, too. That's the part of the job Goodell must succeed at because he's dealing with a group of owners who've made their fortunes someplace besides football. This isn't just a business but also a bit of an expensive toy. It's difficult dealing with people who are used to getting their own way all the time, so leading this group is a monumental task.

Joe Theismann

Football analyst
Former college and pro football star Joe Theismann has served as an analyst for ESPN's Sunday Night Football since 1988. He also is frequently heard on ESPN Radio, regularly contributes to ESPN.com and has contributed to the NFL Draft.