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12/27/2013 01:11 pm ET

The NFL's Very Bad Year - Grantland

ASSOCIATED PRESS

About five years ago, "protecting the shield" became a thing. The phrase was introduced and repeated over and over by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell — he was "protecting the shield" whenever he had to discipline a player or wayward owner. He "protects the shield" when he negotiates with the unions, hugs a first-round draft pick, or cuts league ties with Bradley Cooper.

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