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NFL stadiums will be close to empty when the 2020 season starts. Because of that, commissioner Roger Goodell is trying to preserve all of the television revenue by playing every game. He just designated a committee that includes Troy Polamalu, who was once fined by the league for doing something very unsafe on the field.

Roger Goodell is seeking help in case the going gets tough

The NFL Competition Committee carries more influence with commissioner Roger Goodell in between meetings of the 32 owners than any other group in the league. The committee consists of owners, coaches, and front-office executives. It handles all the big-picture aspects of the NFL, including rules changes, technology, and player safety.

Changes proposed by the Competition Committee go to a vote of the 32 owners, with a three-quarters majority required. That addresses the potential for bias on the part of committee members whose team might gain an edge from one of the recommendations.

However, the committee doesn’t handle issues that suddenly arise and need to be addressed quickly. Those types of matters are the Goodell’s responsibility, and there currently is nothing more pressing on his mind than the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NFL can’t follow the very successful bubble model employed by the NBA and NHL, but the league has dodged most of the pandemic troubles riddling baseball and that might doom all of college football this fall.

Still, Goodell is right to be worried. With that is mind, he has cobbled together an outside advisory committee that will help him work through thorny issues in which individual team representatives might have a conflict of interest.

Troy Polamalu and Tom Coughlin are big names on the new committee

The problem plaguing Major League Baseball for the past month is the single biggest worry that the NFL has about the COVID-19 pandemic. Positive tests for the virus in the right quantities and at the right moment can conceivably force an NFL game to be called off.

Commissioner Roger Goodell’s new advisory committee will help him determine how to handle that and similarly tricky issues. According to Pro Football Talk, the committee’s members are:

  • Ex- cornerback Champ Bailey.
  • Ex-receiver Isaac Bruce.
  • Ex-safety Troy Polamalu.
  • Former general manager Charley Casserly.
  • Ex-head coach and team executive Tom Coughlin.
  • Ex-head coach Marvin Lewis.
  • Former general manager Bill Polian.
  • Former general manager Rick Smith.

While all eight men have connections to teams, they’re now at arm’s length from those affiliations and able to speak their minds more freely than members of the Competition Committee. It means they can even help decide whether to cancel certain games rather than postpone them.

If some games are canceled, then final standings may have to be determined based upon winning percentage rather than total victories to account for differences in the number of games played. In theory, the committee could also be asked to tackle a need to re-seed the playoffs.

Troy Polamalu was once fined $15,000 over a safety issue

Decisions about whether to play NFL games this fall come down to safety for players, staff, game officials, and other personnel on the field. The worst possible look for the league would be a perception that it made safety secondary.

A cursory look at the eight members of Roger Goodell’s new advisory committee suggests that their integrity is indisputable. However, one member was reminded the hard way of the importance of safety.

Back in the 2011 season, his ninth with the Pittsburgh Steelers, safety Troy Polamalu made a horse-collar tackle on running back Ray Rice late in a 35-7 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The NFL fined Polamalu $15,000.

For what it’s worth, the play was pretty much a one-off in an exemplary career that included four first-team All-Pro selections in 12 seasons, all with the Steelers.

The league also docked multiple other players the same day, including the Steelers’ Ike Taylor for another horse-collar tackle.