In a press conference concerning the Ray Rice situation last Friday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said, “I got it wrong on a number of levels.” Mr. Goodell, you most definitely did get it wrong.
In recent weeks, the NFL has plunged into a domestic violence freefall. Five players are currently facing domestic violence charges, including Rice and 2012 NFL MVP Adrian Peterson. Questions have been raised about the league’s actions and policies, specifically in its response to domestic violence allegations and the consistency and appropriateness of the corrective measures it has taken in the past against convicted players. Just think — Ray Rice was suspended for two games after knocking his fiancé, Janay Palmer, completely unconscious. Two games. Anyone else have a problem with that? Apparently not Goodell.
So, I think that one of the most poignant questions I have heard, one that speaks to heart of this situation, was raised by Grantland Editor-in-Chief Bill Simmons who asked, “HOW THE HELL DOES ROGER GOODELL HAVE A JOB?”
How does Roger Goodell have a job? Surely, the way he has dealt with the Ray Rice situation and the unanswered questions about whether or not he saw the Ray Rice elevator video in its entirety should serve as suitable grounds to call Commissioner Goodell’s job into question (for those unaware, originally, video evidence of the Rice altercation was unclear until a new tape discovered by TMZ Sports revealed the full incident in whcih Rice knocked Palmer unconscious). According to the Associated Press, the NFL had the full Ray Rice video in April. The details of the AP report are yet to be verified, but, if they are true, Goodell and the league chose to suspend Rice for only two games with the full video and are now denying they ever saw it. What’s more, Mr. Goodell took 10 days after the full video emerged to address the situation publicly. I know Goodell doesn’t hold all the administrative power of the NFL, but he is at its heart and has handled this situation horribly.
And I would argue that his dealings in player-related problems and controversies as commissioner have been less than adequate more than just this one time (for example, how are Le’Veon Bell and Legarrette Blount still playing while Josh Gordon is suspended until week 11? I may be biased as a Browns fan, but look at the facts). This time his oversights have been made into national news.
So again, how does Roger Goodell have a job? How has he survived the past few weeks amidst this controversy that has shaken the NFL? Well, one thing that Goodell has done well, exceptionally well during his tenure as commissioner has been to make the NFL money. Mr. Goodell’s individual net worth is 45 million dollars but he makes the NFL and its unbelievably wealthy owners billions each year. Goodell is the head of the most wealthy sports media enterprise in the world and he is awfully good at fattening the pockets of the people who invest their money to make it run. So, if the owners who hold the power to remove Goodell were to strip him of his position they would likely lose a chunk from their pockets, but that’s not the attitude they have.
Owners and fans can’t think, “Well, Goodell may not have actually seen the Rice video and he has made the NFL into one helluva sports show, so we’ll just let him deal with the situation.” No. We must look at Goodell as part of the problem. Yes, he has done a good job in promoting the NFL, but the problems that exist with player conduct and discipline, ones that emerged under his watch, are much bigger than the game or money