Poor Roger Goodell. No one promised him a rose garden, certainly not Paul Tagliabue, but he expected to at least have some idea where the trouble might come from. When Goodell was named as just the fourth NFL commissioner in six decades in August 2006, he certainly anticipated some wayward lads who now and then liked to have a little too much fun in saloons and on party boats.
Sure, there were always going to be the sad cases of DUIs, weapons violations and the occasional drug bust. And there would always be a few front offices that would test him with some razzle-dazzle circumvention of the salary cap.
But for the love of Vince Lombardi - Brett Favre?
How could anyone - least of all Goodell, steward of America's Game - have anticipated that the greatest source of turmoil requiring his attention in the walk-up to his third season would be Mr. Everything-that's-good-about-the-NFL?
Pacman Jones? You could see that one coming. The Bengals? Those draft picks were a cinch to catch up to Cincinnati owner Mike Brown. Even Bill Belichick - he had those beady Nixon eyes, so even Spygate wasn't a complete shock.
But Holy Halas, Favre?
Certainly, the issues associated with Michael Vick's dog-fighting scandal were far more serious but at least it was mostly out of Goodell's hands. The feds mainly took care of that one.
But this Favre situation is totally in the commissioner's court. And Goodell is definitely indicating that he doesn't want it lingering.
Already, he has button-holed the Packers and told them to make this unpleasantness go away. Goodell has urged Green Bay to canvass the league to find a suitable dance partner in a trade for Favre should the all-but-certain Hall of Famer request reinstatement.
Forget that Green Bay's interests might be better served in hanging on to Favre until an injury to some starting quarterback makes another team willing to give up just a tad higher draft pick. Goodell wants this settled now, and he's not interested in having the NFL's most beloved contemporary legend continuing to snipe at one of the league's legendary franchises.
Not only that, but the roiling Favre controversy has already yielded a tampering charge lodged by the Packers against the division-rival Minnesota Vikings, a controversy that has been spiced up by the reported news that Favre's cell phone is a smoking gun.
Apparently, the phone that No. 4 carries around is actually owned by the Packers, and they've been able to check out the call list. News reports say that both Minnesota offense coordinator Darrell Bevell and head coach Brad Childress are in Brett's Fave Five and he's been chatting them up.
So now Goodell has to deal with that problem and has dispatched his sleuths to Minnesota to grill the Vikings.
Goodell must be hoping that much of this uproar gets resolved as soon as Favre winds up somewhere else and the Packers get a little something in return to mollify their bruised feelings.
And clearly, the commissioner is telling all concerned: the sooner, the better.