With or without Goodell, league has to make changes

A politician swept up in a scandal holds a news conference similar to the one Roger Goodell staged Friday. The NFL commissioner apologized for mistakes, promised changes and, of course, dodged the most important questions.

He announced big plans for the future without offering details. He gave a speech full of hollow cliches. He said he has no plans to resign.

The league could see some major corporate sponsors drop by the wayside, and public opinion polls would not reflect favorably upon Goodell, who is under fire from the media. To paraphrase a few national columnists, his news conference was a disastrous circus.

It was not Bill Clinton or Richard Nixon stuff, but it was a spectacle.

Serious issues, such as a domestic abuse problem involving players, will be addressed. In time, this story will blow over as the league spends millions of dollars to form committees and polish its image.

According to a Las Vegas oddsmaker, Goodell is a minus-180 favorite to keep his job. Goodell, who has boosted revenues and accomplished a lot of positive work for the league, made $44.2 million last year.

The NFL does need changes, and if it seeks a new commissioner, I would fill out an application and propose implementing these plans:

■ The commissioner will not be the judge and jury in disciplinary cases. There should be a panel of judges. Goodell came down hard on the New Orleans Saints during the 2012 bounty scandal, yet was too easy on Baltimore running back Ray Rice, who knocked out his wife. In this area, Goodell has made inexcusable errors in judgment.

■ The league will put a franchise in Los Angeles as soon as possible. London is acceptable, as well. Expanding to two cities is an option. But it’s ridiculous for the NFL to have a team in Jacksonville and not L.A.

■ The officiating is embarrassing, and it will get fixed. By establishing the NFL Officials Academy, the league will train and develop full-time officials, who are now part-time employees. The officials need to be younger, too. FBI agents are required to retire at age 57 for a reason. A study conducted last year revealed the average of NFL referees to be 56.

■ The league will embrace gambling and collect revenues from it. The popularity of the NFL is due in large part to betting and fantasy leagues. What happens in Las Vegas sports books is not destructive and evil. NBA commissioner Adam Silver is way ahead of the curve on this one.

There is more to address, but this is a picks column, so here are five plays for Week 3 (home team in CAPS):

■ Packers (+2½) over LIONS: Green Bay’s play has been disappointing, specifically the offensive line and defensive secondary. But Detroit also has problems, and Aaron Rodgers will be another one. The Packers are 8-2 in their past 10 games against the Lions, who picked up a win last season when Rodgers was injured.

■ 49ers (-3) over CARDINALS: Drew Stanton will start at quarterback for Arizona, and he’s not ready for the San Francisco defense. In his first start last week, Stanton completed 14 of 29 passes against a weak New York Giants defense. As 49ers coach, Jim Harbaugh is 5-1 against the Cardinals. Off a bad loss to Chicago, the 49ers should answer the bell.

■ SEAHAWKS (-5) over Broncos: It typically pays to back a good team off a loss, and Seattle will be motivated after getting ambushed in San Diego. Peyton Manning is getting points, but Denver is 0-3 as an underdog with Manning at quarterback.

■ Steelers (+3) over PANTHERS: Carolina leads the league with a plus-six turnover margin, and its defense is legit. The difference will be Ben Roethlisberger’s ability to make things happen when plays break down, and he has more playmakers around him than Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

■ JETS (-3) over Bears: This is a bad spot for Chicago, which is off a comeback win at San Francisco with Green Bay on deck. The Bears are dealing with injuries on defense, and wide receivers Brandon Marshall (ankle) and Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) are banged up.

The Jets, 6-3 against the spread in their past nine home games, should bounce back after blowing a 21-3 lead at Green Bay.

Last week: 3-2 against the spread

Season: 5-5

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports betting columnist Matt Youmans can be reached at myoumans@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2907. He co-hosts “The Las Vegas Sportsline” weekdays at 2 p.m. on ESPN Radio (1100 AM). Follow him on Twitter: @mattyoumans247.

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