NFL Commissioner Beat Bullies And Defended Gay Brother in High School

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on December 07 2012 2:29 PM ET

Time magazine calls NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell "The Enforcer" on its cover, and that sense of enforcement may be what saved his gay brother's life decades ago.

Goodell, the typical high school jock, would often fight the bullies who attempted to torment his brother, Michael. If it weren't for his brother's protection, Michael Goodell says he was "the type who would have been beat up a lot." He added, "It would have been humiliating. What would that have meant if I did survive it. Would I have done drugs? There are all sorts of things you can turn to because of self-hatred and loathing. But none of that was even a possibility, because I had this support around me. So, yeah, Roger is very much a hero figure for me."

After writer Sean Gregory relayed Michael's words to his brother, the NFL commissioner teared up.

"That’s the first time I heard that," Goodell replied. "I didn’t know it had much impact on him."