SEATTLE — In the end, for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, climbing Mt. Rainier was every bit as hard as he thought it would be. And much more.
Goodell, who made it to the summit of the 14,411-foot peak Wednesday morning, called the accomplishment the most difficult "physical, emotional and probably mental" challenge of his life. He said he gave serious consideration to giving up just into the middle-of-the-night, 4,000-foot, final push from base camp to the top.
"It was a battle, a constant battle," he said after arriving back at base camp later that morning. "In the first hour, I was really wondering whether I was going to make it, because we were just coming into the hard part. [Guide Peter Whittaker] said, 'This is going to get much worse. But you can do it if you want to.'
"And I said, 'Let's go.' "
Dubbed the Climb for the Community, the eight-member charity expedition raised more than $300,000 for the United Way of King County and included Seattle Seahawks Coach Jim Mora and Chief Executive Tod Leiweke, who organized the event. A Times reporter joined the group for the climb to base camp.
The climb was led by Whittaker and Ed Viesturs, among the world's best mountaineers, and was spread over two days. The group arrived at the trailhead in Paradise late Wednesday afternoon.
Known for his intense workouts, ones that push even his players to the limit, Mora, 47, seemed relatively unfazed by the challenge. Viesturs even joked after the climb that next time he plans to put cement in the coach's backpack to make things more difficult for Mora.
Mora, in turn, said he was especially impressed by the effort of Goodell, 50, who had been training by lugging weights up staircases of New York skyscrapers.
"You realize why he's doing what he's doing, why he got where he got," Mora said. "Really, it gives me even greater conviction that he's the guy you want running the league. The owners made the right choice.
"That's the kind of guy I want to be roped to."