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In case you doubted who Roger Goodell worked for...

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has been a lightening rod for criticism throughout three months of lockout and labor strife. Criticism of Goodell has mostly centered around the notion that as the game's ambassador he allowed owners to make a foolish decision even as a profits increased. The great Joe Posnanski wrote the defining brief on Goodell arguing that very point. Former NFL head coach Brian Billick, writing at Fox Sports, offers a very telling anecdote about the owners and Goodell.

At a 2008 meeting, just two years after agreeing to the last Collective Bargaining Agreement, owners made the decision to scratch off the scab and the CBA was reopened. NFL counsel Jeff Pash, who has been even more deserving of contempt throughout this whole process, stood up in front of owners and made this remark, as told by Billick:

"If you follow through with this, you need to be prepared to stand by this man" - and here Pash pointed toward his boss, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell - "when he gets all the blame for it. Because nearly everyone, from the players association to the press, is going to be pointing fingers at him."

It's clear that Goodell's role was never to be an ambassador of the game, a person working on behalf of players, owners and everyone else involved in pro football to bridge the divide and make a lasting peace. Whether or not that should have been the commissioner's role is up for debate. 

But Goodell now has a shot at redemption for his role in the lawyer-less settlement talks occurring directly between players and owners right now. If the commissioner can salvage the 2011 season and help hammer out an agreement all will be forgiven.