I’ll admit, I used to be a Roger Goodell fan. When he first took over as commissioner of the NFL, I liked what I saw. But over the last few years I’ve completely changed my mind. And following this Ray Rice debacle, I think what has to happen is clear.
Roger Goodell has to go.
While TMZ has reported that the NFL simply didn’t ask the Atlantic City casino to see the footage from the elevator, the official
excuse statement from the NFL is that they weren’t given access by law enforcement officials to see the video.
I don’t believe that for a second.
The NFL, and it’s army of lawyers, could have easily gotten ahold of that footage if they were being denied access to it. Especially after the legal proceedings behind this incident were concluded in May. Because it wasn’t until over two months later that Rice was finally suspended a whopping 2 games. You can’t tell me that within that time they couldn’t have found a way to view the footage. And you can’t convince me that they didn’t know what was on it, even if someone from within Goodell’s office didn’t personally see it for themselves.
And another issue that’s bugging me is how no other sports-related media entity got their hands on this video. It’s almost as if they weren’t looking for it. It was confirmed after the initial viral video of Rice dragging Palmer out of the elevator that there was, in fact, footage of the actual incident inside the elevator. So why haven’t we seen someone from ESPN, NBC, CBS, Fox or ABC dig into this video?
Well, I have a theory on that. You see, every single one of those networks has strong ties to the NFL. In my opinion, the NFL put pressure on these networks not to dig any deeper into this incident. That or they were flat-out told not to report on this second video because the NFL had put pressure on the networks to keep a lid on it. And if you don’t think the NFL has that kind of power, you’re being naive.
But let’s not act as if this would be the first shady incident we’ve seen on Goodell’s watch.
Players (both current and former) have often been highly critical of his handling of punishments for player conduct on and off the field. In fact, he’s almost gone out of his way to ensure that he’s the lone individual responsible for handling player discipline. Even as players have continually said there needs to be a former player involved in the decision-making (especially for on the field incidents) because they have a better working knowledge of what goes on down on the field during a game. Needless to say, the players have not been given that voice.
And who remembers the referee strike a couple of years ago? You know, when the league used college officials (who weren’t properly trained to work professional games) during NFL games all because the multibillion dollar NFL didn’t want to pay the real referees a little more.
During that time numerous mistakes by these officials were made during games. Some players were even vocal about whether these replacement referees were able to keep players safe because they weren’t properly trained on how to handle football at a professional level. But none of that mattered. Roger Goodell wouldn’t budge.
Until these inadequate referees ended up actually costing the Green Bay Packers a game against the Seattle Seahawks. After that very public embarrassment, then Goodell finally decided it was time to bring the real referees back.
Then there’s always the ongoing issue with player safety. So terrified of being sued for head injuries, he’s changed the rules to more or less eliminate any hits to the head. But by doing so, he’s actually emphasized hits to lower extremities which puts the knees in jeopardy. And according to a fairly recent poll, a vast majority of NFL players fear knee injuries more than head injuries.
And let’s not fool ourselves on this situation either. It wasn’t until the league began getting sued by former players over health concerns related to head injuries from playing football that Goodell finally began caring about hits to the head.
I absolutely believe that if those lawsuits never took place, Goodell wouldn’t have cared one bit about trying to prevent players from taken brutal hits to the head.
So let’s not act as if Goodell always wants to “do the right thing.” Because he’s consistently proven that he only acts properly after a situation becomes such a public relations disaster that he really has no other alternative.
Just like he has with the Ray Rice situation.
Because even if you want to look at the initial 2-game suspension, his “reasoning” behind it was asinine. This is what Goodell said at the time:
“If it’s their first offense, someone who has had a strong background of being very responsible in the community and doing the right things and not violating either policies or anything else that would reflect poorly on the NFL, then we take that into account. When there’s a pattern, we also take that into account on the other side.”
Though he did later admit that they made a mistake and implemented a mandatory 6-game suspension for a first offense and a lifetime ban for a second.
Which makes Goodell’s current “indefinite” suspension of Rice even more confusing. By the new policy, Rice should only be suspended six games. So why an “indefinite” suspension?
Oh, I know! Because now that the second video has been made public, it’s a massive public relations nightmare. And like I said, Goodell has proven repeatedly that he only does the right thing when he absolutely has to.
When discussing the integrity of the NFL you’ll hear a lot about “protecting the shield.” It’s a moniker referring to the NFL’s logo, which is a shield. Well, if the NFL really wants to protect that “shield,” then that starts with getting rid of Roger Goodell.
Because he’s proven more than once that he simply lacks the ability to lead with any type of integrity. Well, that is, until he absolutely has to. And by then, the damage to the league has already been done.