Ranking Commissioners of America's Major Sports Leagues Amid MLB's Circus Negotiations

Rob Manfred
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred backtracked on his previous statements Monday, saying that he was now unsure that there would be a 2020 season. | Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

Acting as the commissioner of a professional sports league is often a thankless job. Some commissioners have done wonders for their sport, increasing popularity and making labor negotiations appear seamless, while others have upset fans and players.

With MLB's ongoing labor dispute casting doubt upon the 2020 season, here's our ranking of the four major American commissioners with their jobs in the spotlight more than ever.

4. Gary Bettman, NHL

Gary Bettman
Bettman, the NHL's first and only commissioner, has been largely unpopular, with three labor stoppages under his watch. | Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

While the NHL has a more niche fan base than the other leagues listed here, commissioner Gary Bettman is universally disliked. After three lockouts over the course of his tenure and one fully canceled season, Bettman has earned the vitriol of fans, and is often booed at public appearances. His decision to ban players from participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics was also controversial and heavily criticized.

3. Rob Manfred, MLB

Rob Manfred, Christian Yelich
Recent labor unrest under Manfred will likely define his tenure as MLB commissioner. | Will Newton/Getty Images

While Rob Manfred checks in at third in these rankings, the margin between him and Gary Bettman is now small. The ongoing MLB labor dispute has the potential to be disastrous in both the short term and long term, and Manfred has not helped matters. After recently guaranteeing that MLB would hold a 2020 season, Manfred backtracked Monday, stating that he was now unsure if that would be possible. With baseball's popularity declining, Manfred needs to find a solution quickly.

2. Roger Goodell, NFL

Roger Goodell
Goodell has been widely disliked during his time as commissioner, but has kept the NFL's popularity extremely high. | Handout/Getty Images

While it may be surprising to see Roger Goodell this high, his tenure has been better than some will admit. While he deserves plenty of criticism for his handling of the Colin Kaepernick situation and some nonsense suspensions, Goodell has kept the NFL popular, and his handling of 2020 virtual NFL Draft showed a level of professionalism and adaptability that fans should appreciate.

1. Adam Silver, NBA

Adam Silver
Silver has been very popular since taking over for David Stern, garnering widespread praise for his willingness to innovate. | Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Adam Silver is perhaps the only American commissioner who is widely liked, and for good reason. Since taking over for David Stern, he has been extremely open to new ideas and has governed like a true leader by listening to the players, which has helped the NBA increase in popularity. He's given players a voice and platform, and that's further promoted the league as the most progressive in perhaps the entire world.