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Senior NFL Columnist

NFL's 10 most interesting influencers: Commish, Jerry Jones atop list

The Cowboys may struggle, but owner Jerry Jones helps significantly shape the NFL. (USATSI)
The Cowboys may struggle, but owner Jerry Jones helps significantly shape the NFL. (USATSI)

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There are a lot of power brokers and people with influence in the NFL, those who determine what happens both on and off the field. Here's a list of 10 people with great influence on the game.

1. Commissioner Roger Goodell: It all starts with Goodell. He is the most powerful man in the league, even if many don't like him, including some players and media members. I've known Goodell for a long time, dating back to the expansion process in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and while I don't always agree with everything he does, I think he is a better commissioner than most.

2. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones: Even though his team hasn't had success in a long time, and he's viewed by many as the reason why it's that way on the field, he continues to be one of the best owners in terms of business and influence on the league. He's laughing at your mocking of him all the way to the bank.

3. Executive Vice President, NFL Media Brian Rolapp: The new head of NFL media is considered a forward thinker, especially as it relates to digital media. That's a wise thing. The rollout of NFL Now, a new digital platform for the league, will be something to watch in terms of Rolapp's vision.

4. CAA agents Tom Condon, Ben Dogra, Jimmy Sexton: They represent many big-name players, including Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Adrian Peterson, as well as several top coaches. Their power is second to none when it comes to negotiating contracts for players and coaches, much to the chagrin of other agents.

5. NFL Executive Vice President of Operations Troy Vincent: He takes over for Ray Anderson, who left to become the athletic director at Arizona State. Vincent, a former defensive back, was once considered to be a potential union leader. Now he's on the other side, and will play a key role in what the league does moving forward.

6. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning: He is coming off a record-setting season two years after it looked as if his career was over. As the face of the NFL, he is also on tons of commercials and might be the most polarizing player in the game.

7. Orthopedic surgeon James Andrews: He is considered among the best in his field, and many NFL players have had their careers prolonged by his surgeries. He keeps players playing, which is what the fans want to see.

8. Patriots coach Bill Belichick: Three Super Bowl titles, and years of being considered the best in his profession, gives Belichick a lot of clout. It's why he can suggest a rule change, and the league listens, even if Spygate clouds his resume.

9. Prospective NFLPA head Sean Gilbert: He has a vision for what he would do if he were running the union, including an already-published book with a lot of his thoughts. As the players continue to wonder if they got a bad deal with the current CBA, Gilbert is trying to make inroads as a potential leader.

10. Catapult: This is a GPS athlete tracking company out of Australia that makes equipment allowing teams to monitor their players on a regular basis. The Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers and other teams are starting to use this to gauge players during practice and games to see how they are responding to their time on the field.

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