By Doug Russell Special to Published Feb 21, 2012 at 11:00 AM

If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?

If this is the case, why is Roger Goodell continuing his one-man obsession to expand the NFL season to 18 games?

By and large, Goodell has been a very good commissioner. His No. 1 priority is to not screw anything up, which he has admirably done. The game has grown steadily under his watch and things are good. And although it turned bitter at times, his leadership helped avoid any games being lost due to last year's work stoppage.

However, perhaps out of fear of a lack of tangible legacy, Goodell has only been able to tinker here and there, but not really make any signature moves like Pete Rozelle with revenue sharing and Monday Night Football; or even Paul Tagliabue and his brilliant move to create an event out of the season opening game on the Thursday night before the league's first full weekend of play.

As for Goodell, all he is best known for is fining players for aggressive play. And while his legacy is obviously respected by the owners, many players have nothing but contempt for the current commissioner.

"How in the hell can u (sic) pay a man this much money that cant (sic) run tackle or catch," Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White tweeted when it was learned that Goodell's salary doubled to $20 million per year recently.

"Up until last year, there was no word of me being dirty -- till Roger Goodell, who's a crook and a puppet, said I was the dirtiest player in the league," Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison said during an interview last year in Men's Journal. "If that man was on fire and I had to piss to put him out, I wouldn't do it. I hate him and will never respect him."

If Goodell was openly despised by some players last season when the crackdown on contact really began, the NFL lockout all but cemented his place as the most hated executive among the rank-and-file of just about any corporation in America.

"Goodell's full of it," San Diego Chargers linebacker Kevin Burnett said last summer during a radio interview while the lockout was ongoing. "He's a liar. You're a blatant liar. 'It's our league, it's we, we love the players, we want the league,' but what have you done for the players? What have you done, in all honesty, to improve the game, besides fine guys, besides take money away from guys, besides change a game that you've never played? ... He's done nothing to improve the game."

Even the subject of HGH testing has gotten the commissioner in the crosshairs of his players. As part of the new collective bargaining agreement, the players caved on the issue, but not without some fierce resistance, which even continues to this day.

"He needs to stop crying about blood tests and HGH," former Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason told WJZ-FM last year. "To me, he's a joke, because every time I look, he's talking about performance enhancements instead of talking about trying to figure out a way to make sure football is played in August."

But would some of those games Mason is talking about in August ever count in the standings? Goodell for several years has floated the idea of expanding the season to 18 games, while dropping two preseason contests.

And while everyone that does not have a financial stake in the laughingly-bad brand of football we are forced to endure for four consecutive Godforsaken weeks wants fewer practice games, not many outside of Goodell are still clamoring for the expansion of the regular season.

"People want more football," Goodell said last week. "I think they want less preseason and more regular season and that's the concept we are talking about here."

That all sounds good in theory. Except that his theory is not rooted in fact.

Last year, the Associated Press, in association with Knowledge Networks, released a survey of American sports fans that indicated that while football is overwhelmingly our favorite sport by a more than 3-to-1 margin, only 27 percent of respondents "strongly favor" expanding the season.

If that survey were held inside NFL locker rooms, however, that number might shrink to nearly zero percent.

"Our players don't want it," union chief DeMaurice Smith has said repeatedly whenever the topic is brought up. "It's not in the best interest of our players' safety."

"Eighteen games, the way it's being proposed, is completely unacceptable," according to Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita."There are so many things now -- with player health and safety, and the future of us and our families -- that aren't even being considered. And for us, it's disappointing. It feels like a slap in the face."

Baltimore Ravens cornerback Dominique Foxworth, who has only played in two games in the last two seasons because of injuries, agrees. "We put our bodies on the line and produce a lot of revenue and we get five years of post-retirement health insurance," he says. "And then they want to tack on two more games ... which is just going to multiply the injuries and the ailments that we're going to see after we go into our 40s, 50s, 60s -- 70s, if we're lucky. ... We're not willing to budge on health and safety"

While Goodell last week said that he wants the cooperation of the players association, "We are going to make changes in the offseason and during the preseason and during the regular season to make the game safer. If we can accomplish that, we'll look at the idea of restructuring the season and taking two preseason games away and the potential of adding regular season games. But I don't think that will happen until at least 2013 or 14."

Of course, what the NFL should do with their preseason won't ever happen.

Four games are too many. Some feel that two games are not enough. Businesspeople, perhaps with their ties tied too tightly around their necks, cutting off the circulation to their brains, haven't landed on the number in between, three.

"But how would it be fair financially if the Vikings had two home games and the Broncos only had one?"

The answer to that has been something the Lords that run the game have been talking about for a generation now, although they are looking global rather than local.

If you want to expand the reach of the NFL, what better way than to play neutral-site preseason games in communities that doesn't have the NFL nearby? Instead of reaching out to London and Tokyo, how about reaching out to Tallahassee and Blacksburg?

Play a game between the Bears and the Rams in Champaign's Memorial Stadium. How about a matchup between the Cowboys and the Texans at Darrel K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin?

The Packers and Broncos could play each other in Lincoln, Neb.

Tuscaloosa's Bryant-Denny Stadium would be a great venue to watch the Saints and Dolphins go at it. The Raiders and Seahawks could renew their past rivalry at Beaver Stadium in Corvallis, Ore.

Or how about this for expanding the NFL's reach: Have the 49eers and Chargers play in either the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum or the Rose Bowl. That would get some tongues wagging.

Of course, it will never happen because of the greed of the owners, but it would be the right thing to do. To fans and players there is no downside.

NFL fans in non-NFL cities could attend a game. The novelty of playing in some of the best NCAA venues would be tremendous for the local communities, and the players that may have played their college ball in places like Eugene, Chapel Hill, State College, or Iowa City could be treated as conquering heroes upon their return.

The brand of the NFL expands; the NFL preseason shrinks. The only thing standing between common sense and reality is a number on a piece of paper.

You know, money really is the root of all evil.

Doug Russell Special to

Doug Russell has been covering Milwaukee and Wisconsin sports for over 20 years on radio, television, magazines, and now at

Over the course of his career, the Edward R. Murrow Award winner and Emmy nominee has covered the Packers in Super Bowls XXXI, XXXII and XLV, traveled to Pasadena with the Badgers for Rose Bowls, been to the Final Four with Marquette, and saw first-hand the entire Brewers playoff runs in 2008 and 2011. Doug has also covered The Masters, several PGA Championships, MLB All-Star Games, and Kentucky Derbys; the Davis Cup, the U.S. Open, and the Sugar Bowl, along with NCAA football and basketball conference championships, and for that matter just about anything else that involves a field (or court, or rink) of play.

Doug was a sports reporter and host at WTMJ-AM radio from 1996-2000, before taking his radio skills to national syndication at Sporting News Radio from 2000-2007. From 2007-2011, he hosted his own morning radio sports show back here in Milwaukee, before returning to the national scene at Yahoo! Sports Radio last July. Doug's written work has also been featured in The Sporting News, Milwaukee Magazine, Inside Wisconsin Sports, and Brewers GameDay.

Doug and his wife, Erika, split their time between their residences in Pewaukee and Houston, TX.