By Kerry J. Byrne
Cold, Hard Foootball Facts capo di tutti capi

We dubbed Roger Goodell “the Gridiron Godfather” soon after he became NFL commissioner back in 2006.
After all, like Godfather Michael Corleone of fictional gangster fame, Gridiron Godfather Goodell of factual football fame wasted no time establishing iron-fisted rule over his family. We didn’t realize at the time how eerily fitting the comparison would prove.
The Godfather was ruthlessly committed to protecting the family. The Gridiron Godfather is ruthlessly committed to protecting "the shield." Both show no remorse about whacking anybody who stands in their way. After all, it’s just business.
The Godfather ultimately went too far, tearing apart the family he fought to protect. Football fans now fear the same out of the Gridiron Godfather, after his most recent orgy of punishments stand to destroy several careers as well as the 2012 season for the New Orleans Saints.
Here’s a look at the brutal similarities between the way the Godfather and the Gridiron Godfather handled the family business.
Whacked by the Godfather – Captain McCluskey and Virgil Sollozzo
Whacked by the Gridiron Godfather – Pacman Jones and Chris Henry
Each Godfather enforced their new-found authority by taking down a pair of bad dudes in a brazen display of power and vengeance.

McCluskey and Sollozzo were whacked by the Godfather at point-blank range inside a New York restaurant, ruining a perfectly good veal dinner in the process.

Pacman Jones and Chris Henry were whacked by the Gridiron Godfather for 16 and 8 games, respectively, ruining their 2007 seasons in the process.
A colleague describes the Gridiron Godfather's ruthless style: “You gotta get up close like this and, bada-bing, you blow their careers all over your nice Ivy League suit.”

Whacked by the Godfather– Carlo Rizzi
Whacked by the Gridiron Godfather – Michael Vick
Carlo Rizzi was a two-bit criminal who beat women. Michael Vick was a two-bit criminal who beat dogs.

Rizzi was whacked with a garrote around the neck in the front seat of a Studebaker. Vick was whacked with a two-year suspension and a 21-month jail term.

Whacked by the Godfather – Paulie Gatto
Whacked by the Gridiron Godfather – Ndamukong Suh
Paulie Gatto was a thug called upon to do many of the Corleone family's dirty jobs. Ndamukong Suh is considered a  thug and called one of the dirtiest players in football.

Gatto was whacked with three bullets in the back of the head in a New Jersey marsh while poor Mrs. Clemenza eagerly awaited her cannoli.

Suh was whacked with a two-game suspension for stomping on a Green Bay player while poor malnourished Americans eagerly awaited their Thanksgiving dinner.
Whacked by the Godfather – Philip Tattaglia
Whacked by the Gridiron Godfather – Ben Roethlisberger
Tattaglia was head of one of New York’s most prominent crime families. Roethlisberger was head of one of the NFL’s most prominent football families.

Tattaglia was taking liberties with a lady when he was whacked by the Godfather. Roethlisberger was whacked by the Gridiron Godfather for taking liberties with a lady.
Whacked by the Godfather – Fredo Corleone
Whacked by the Gridiron Godfather – The NFL Players’ Association
Fredo was resentful of the Godfather and ultimately betrayed him during the ugly Cuban revolution. The NFL Players’ Association was resentful of the Gridiron Godfather's employers and ultimately betrayed him during an ugly labor dispute.

The Godfather finally turned on his own family and whacked Fredo with a bullet in the back of the head on Lake Tahoe. The Gridiron Godfather finally turned on his own football family and whacked the NFLPA with a lockout.
The Gridiron Godfather is overheard uttering to DeMaurice Smith, “You’re nothing to me now.”
Whacked by The Godfather – Sal Tessio
Whacked by the Gridiron Godfather – Warren Sapp
Tessio was a trusted member of the Corleone family who turned out to be a snitch. Sapp was a trusted member of the NFL Network family who recently accused an NFL player of being a snitch.

Tessio was whacked at a Staten Island gas station. Sapp was whacked with a public reprimand at a Los Angeles TV studio.
Sapp says later, “Tell Roger it was only business. I always liked him.”
Whacked by the Godfather – The heads of the Five Families
Whacked by the Gridiron Godfather – Mickey Loomis, Joe Vitt, Sean Payton, Gregg Williams, Tom Benson
The Godfather was in the presence of the saints when he unleashed a murderous killing spree against the heads of the Five Families. The juxtaposition of solemn church ceremony and deadly violence shocked viewers.

The Gridiron Godfather was in the presence of a higher power, himself, when he unleashed a vengeful suspension spree against the Saints. The juxtaposition of ruined careers and brutal punishments against a beloved NFL glamour franchise shocked football fans.

Whacked by the Godfather – Moe Green
Whacked by the Gridiron Godfather – Bill Belichick
Moe Green turned a desert in Nevada into America’s adult playground. Bill Belichick turned a desert of football in New England into a pigskin playground.

The Godfathers scoffed at these powerful men. The Godfather accused Green of skimming off the top of their gambling business; the Gridiron Godfather accused Belichick of videotaping opponents' signals.
Green was whacked with a bullet through the eye on a massage table. Belichick was whacked with a $500,000 fine, the loss of a first-round draft pick and a reputation as a cheat.
Belichick, like Green, was outraged by the lack of respect..

"Do you know who I am!? I’m Bill Belichick! I was winning Super Bowls when you were going out with cheerleaders.”