In his upcoming book, After Further Review, former NFL official Mike Pereira makes the deadly serious claim that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell once shoved him during a heated argument.
Pereira, who was the league's vice president of officiating at the time, says the incident took place in his office while the two engaged in a fiery debate over the controversial Bottlegate game in 2001.
With the Cleveland Browns driving towards the end zone, for what would have been the game's winning score against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Quincy Morgan apparently caught a pass from Tim Couch on fourth-and-1. But after reviewing the play, referee Terry McAulay reversed the catch and awarded the Jaguars the ball, effectively ending the game and giving the Jags a 15-10 victory.
Cleveland fans reacted to McAulay's reversal by throwing bottles onto the field, forcing McAulay to call the game with 43 seconds left on the clock.
Pereira defended McAulay's actions that day in his office, while Goodell took the opposite view.
"Goodell persisted, but I refused to give in. What happened next was anything but good. The conversation escalated, and when he was down in front of my office, with others present, he was so frustrated and, I'm sure, getting so much heat from Cleveland that he gave me a hard shove into my door to try and continue the argument about McAulay in my office. Quite frankly, it startled me, and I think it startled him a little because the discussion ended shortly after that," Pereira writes, in an excerpt published by Deadspin.
Fifteen years later, Pereira still takes pride in having stood up to Goodell that day.
"You have to support your 'players,' including sticking to your guns when you get shoved by your boss—who, by the way, wasn't yet commissioner then. He was the executive vice president and chief operating officer," Pereira writes.
It was another five years before Goodell would succeed Paul Tagliabue as commissioner, but you have to wonder what might have been if this story had come out before Goodell was voted in by the owners in 2006.
Unsurprisingly, the NFL had no comment on Pereira's revelation. Regardless, it's a terrible look for the head man of the NFL to get physical with any staffers, no matter how heated the discussion.
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