By TYLER DASWICK
College Contributor Network
The year is 2014. After the most brutal war yet between the National Football League and its opinion-holding civilians, the organization's figurehead, Roger Goodell, lies amid a smoking wreckage of his own making. Though the Commissioner struggled to keep his reputation intact, he ultimately saw his visage shattered into a thousand jagged pieces.
In the wake of Goodell's public destruction, a despairing populace is left with a cloud of uncertainty. Who would be ideal to replace our broken leader: a politician from the South, a musician from the Northeast, another league-grown exec? The questions swirl, but the ambiguity remains. Nothing seems right. No one seems right. But -- that's it. That's the answer: We can rebuild the Commissioner. We have the technology.
It is time to assemble the ultimate Robo-Commish, or, the "Forty-Four Million Dollar Man."
For the shiny new NFL Commissioner, it might make sense to simply search for a singular replacement to the most powerful person in sports, but history says that with all the power in the hands of one, things can go awry very quickly. We want to take the best parts of every candidate and assemble them into the best Robo-Commish we can make, so, without further ado, let's start with a crucial component from a clear frontrunner:
The backbone of Condoleeza Rice
That's right -- none other than the leading lady herself is going to form the foundation of Robo-Commish. One of the biggest shortcomings we see in Goodell right now is his inability to maintain any sort of consistency in his policies. On the surface, this seems to stem from a compulsive, almost obsessive need to keep a healthy public image intact. He has routinely compromised the integrity of the NFL for the sake of its reputation as "America's Most Successful Sport." The PR comes first, and everything else comes second.
Install our new Robo-Commish with the backbone of Condoleeza Rice, however, and the priorities switch. What we saw out of Rice during her time as Secretary of State was, while controversial, most definitely consistent. She stuck to her guns, never waffled, and put her responsibilities to the country before public opinion. Despite the content of the decisions themselves, we want that attitude -- the pure logistics come with another component.
The brain of Gregg Levy
Enter Gregg Levy. For the Robo-Commish, we want to harvest the best brain we can, and look no further than the NFL's leading lawyer. The man was a finalist for the commissioner position back in 2006, and for good reason. He has legally spearheaded the league through a myriad of challenges and accusations, banking on a mass of business knowledge to complement his football smarts. This guy's brain contains all the tools Robo-Commish would need -- business savvy, knowledge of both league and union operations, persuasion -- you want it, he has it.
And if you are worried about a lack of passion for the sport, never fear. As a teenager, Levy sold concessions at Ohio State football games. Plug him in.
The face of Michael Strahan
The big thing that Robo-Commish needs is an image that will make players, fans, and executives feel like they are being taken care of. So, in a Hannibal-esque move, we borrow the face of Michael Strahan and put it front and center on our new creation.
Before we argue, let's go back to Goodell for a second. Here is a man who grew up the son of a U.S. Senator and was born and bred in the NFL system. Came in as an intern and worked his way up. Essentially, what we have with his image (even before Ray Rice) is a guy who appeals to executives . . . and not really anyone else. Fans see him as a tyrant, and he is not personable enough to relate with the athletes in his league.
Thus, Robo-Commish needs the face of Strahan. Here is a respected veteran, beloved by players and fans alike for playing a tough position with longevity and loyalty, avoiding the pitfalls of stardom, and keeping it classy on the field and off. America sees him every Sunday delivering surprisingly serviceable analysis on Fox, and with Rice's backbone and Levy's brains behind the scenes, Strahan will bring the personable balance that Robo-Commish needs.
Feet of Brian Rolapp
What you have to understand about Rolapp is this: as one of the leading professionals in the NFL's media department, his main focus is expansion. This is the guy who figures out the logistics behind the NFL Network, Thursday Night Football, games in London, playoff re-formats -- everything the league does that impacts its media presence. The expertise and forward-thinking attitude of a guy like Rolapp is key for Robo-Commish, so we need the media expert in our most mobile body part.
Goodell has dropped the ball with combining his dreams for expansion with the consideration of his players. Ambitions like Thursday Night Football and bigger playoffs come at the expense of player safety, and Robo-Commish needs to solve this equation. With Rolapp restricted to just the feet, we ensure that he achieves that balance of innovation and practicality.
Right hand of Jay-Z
You bet America would put its biggest sport in the hand of one of its biggest stars, because this is the Land of the Free and we do what we want here. Listen, if we want to talk player relations, let's take one of the most popular figures on the ownership/representation side of things and give his right hand to Robo-Commish.
Jay-Z connects with athletes, so let's have everyone who shakes the hand of our new figurehead feel the grasp of Shawn Carter. Instantly, we know this commish is here for his players, but he has the business savvy to appeal to execs as well.
Left hand of Troy Vincent
While the right hand shakes, the left hand clasps the shoulder, takes hold of the wrist, maybe does one of those brotherly half-hugs -- in any case, the southpaw is in charge of the more affirming gestures.
Troy Vincent was president of the NFLPA for four of his 15 years in the league, and he has been Vice President of Football Operations since 2010. This is a guy who can walk the walk while Jay-Z and Strahan talk the talk. He understands what players need, and knows how to communicate with execs effectively -- he completes Robo-Commish by merging on-field experience with off-field advocacy.
Our best engineers are in the lab. Sparks are flying, saws are whirring, and the finest scientists in the world are coming together to assemble our hero. We, the chief designers, understand the gravity of these times for the NFL, and we understand the kind of leader that can lead our league out of this age of senseless crime. We understand that we need Robo-Commish, and we understand the pieces we need to build him.
The NFL has a disease. Here is your honest-to-God cure.
Tyler Daswick is a junior at Northwestern University. He is a huge fan of the Green Bay Packers, Indiana Jones, and writing stories about cowboys and banditos. Follow him on Twitter: @AccordingtoDazz
By TYLER DASWICK