Roger Goodell's reputation is basically already set. Between the labor negotiations from two years ago and the way the Saints bounty scandal was handled, this NFL commissioner is never really going to have the full trust of the players.
That doesn't mean letting go of this 18-game schedule idea wouldn't serve him in some way with his general relationship with the players. SI.com's Don Banks made a really good point on the subject.
Whether Goodell admits it or not, the push for the 18-game schedule, awkwardly juxtaposed as it is against the backdrop of the league’s player safety initiatives, is seen as a litmus test of whether he truly cares as much as he claims about the good of the game and its players. The high-profile focus on taking better care of players while asking them to put their bodies on the line for two more real games will never make sense to most of the men who suit up, and explaining that contradiction in any terms other than the league’s financial benefit is a challenge Goodell has yet to successfully meet.
The commissioner, of course, can’t put the quest for popularity among players above all else. But in this case, perceptions matter, because they can become reality. Goodell can’t care too much about what the players think, but he can’t care too little, either. Both approaches are dangerous.
Goodell is talking out of both sides of his mouth by trying to add games that supposedly don't matter in the grand scheme of things just to get two more weeks of commercials, high stakes gambling and fantasy football.
No one really wants this except the powers that be, which says a lot. Goodell needs to spin this for his own sake.