Though a date hasn’t been announced, ESPN’s Don Van Natta Jr. and Seth Wickersham have collaborated on Powerball, an investigative look at Roger Goodell, NFL owners, and the league’s modern-day power structure.
That’s a very promising starting point, and the synopsis is very intriguing:
From the commissioner’s office on down, the NFL serves the interests of those who really have the power. Beginning in 2006, when Roger Goodell was elected NFL Commissioner on a secret ballot by the NFL team owners, POWERBALL will trace how the league’s owners evolved from a mainly cohesive group of legacy owners’ families to a raucous, divisive membership that has splintered into cliques, and it will examine how what happens in the inner circles of the league affects the games watched by millions every season.
Both separately and together, Van Natta and Wickersham have written definitive pieces for ESPN The Magazine—about Roger Goodell, Jerry Jones, the Ray Rice domestic violence incident, the connection of Deflategate to Spygate, the relocation of the Rams to Los Angeles, and many of the league’s biggest stars, from Tom Brady to Peyton Manning.
Fewer sports organizations have been more maligned in recent years than the NFL league office. Something goes wrong at seemingly every turn, and even incidents in which they’re on the right side of common sense (like the various New England scandals) turn into bumbling investigations.
And this is a multi-billion dollar enterprise! It’s astounding how much of a disconnect there is between the stern, competent face the league seems to want to present (respect the shield!) and the Keystone Cops routine into which things inevitably devolve.
Van Natta and Wickersham both contribute to ESPN: The Magazine and Outside the Lines. OTL regularly offers some of ESPN’s best journalism, and both men appear well-suited to this particular task.
Crown didn’t announce a release date yet, but smart money is later this year, perhaps around opening week for the league.
It should be an interesting read.