Sport360° view: Goodell remains bulletproof as he takes shots aimed at NFL

Jay Asser 20/09/2014
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Under fire: Roger Goodell.

How Roger Goodell is still the commissioner of the NFL has baffled all followers of the sport. There’s isn’t anyone with a sense of perspective who would argue he shouldn’t be gone.

Even though Goodell isn’t the root of all the problems plaguing the league off the field, he’s certainly contributed his fair share.

The Ray Rice fiasco did enough damage to Goodell’s credibility that he should be removed from the position solely based on how badly he mishandled the situation.

After a video leaked of Rice punching his then-girlfriend-now-wife Janay in an elevator, Goodell changed his original suspension from two games to an indefinite one. But the video begged a number of questions, all pointing to Goodell and the league’s ineptitude.

If he had seen the tape, why didn’t he change Rice’s suspension immediately? Was he covering it up and hoping the video wouldn’t reach the public?

If he hadn’t see the tape, then why not? How can the most powerful sports league in the country – a billion-dollar industry – not get their hands on a surveillance tape from a casino elevator, but TMZ, a celebrity gossip website, can?

On top of that, by all accounts Rice told Goodell exactly what he had done to his wife earlier in the summer, yet Goodell didn’t act until the video was released and outside pressure feverishly mounted.

Goodell realised the league’s mishandling looked suspect, so he hired former FBI director Robert Mueller to conduct an “independent” investigation to save face. Independent is clearly the wrong word to describe the investigation because it’s far from objective.

Overseeing the affair are none other than John Mara and Dan Rooney from two of the league’s oldest ownership groups – the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers – while Mueller himself previously worked at the same Washington D.C. law firm – WilmerHale – as Dick Cass, the Baltimore Ravens team president and Rice’s former employer.

It’s a farce.

What they uncover won’t change much, because even before getting answers that might never come, it’s the questions that reveal the deceitful nature of how everything has gone down. Either way you slice it, Goodell and the league come out with their hands dirtied.

Still, Goodell isn’t going anywhere, at least not yet.

He’s too invaluable for the league’s owners, a whipping boy who’s willing to fall on the sword to protect the NFL shield. The owners don’t want to lose that and bring in an outsider who’ll hold them more accountable and stand up to the bullies.

Let’s keep in mind though, that whether or not Goodell is around, the league had and still has its issues with crime, substance abuse and concussions. Goodell didn’t bring those problems with him when he took over office in 2006, he’s just presided over them like his predecessors.

Watching the NFL right now is difficult.

It’s conflicting to watch something you love and feel guilty doing so at the same time. You’ll see a lineman strip-sack a quarterback and be in awe, only to remember the player was once convicted of assault and regret ever rooting for him.

The league is a long way from where we’d like it to be off the field and we’ve done our part in ignoring how rotted it is underneath the entertaining action up to this point.

Removing Goodell won’t solve everything, but it’s a first step to fixing the NFL.


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Steelers’ alarming dip in form continues in defeat to Baltimore

Jay Asser 13/09/2014
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Slipping: Pittsburgh Steelers (l).

Lost amid the Baltimore Ravens’ distraction-shedding Week 2 win was the continued flat effort of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who, save for a half of football, have been thor­oughly outplayed this season.

The 26-6 result proved Balti­more haven’t been deterred on the field by the controversy surround­ing their former running back Ray Rice, who they cut and the NFL suspended indefinitely after a video leaked showing him punching his wife Janay.

Unfortunately for Pitts­burgh, it also showed the Steelers’ Week 1 near-loss to the Cleveland Browns wasn’t a fluke.

In their opener, Pittsburgh looked impressive storming to a 27-3 halftime lead over the Browns, but then looked just as dreadful in the second half when they allowed Cleveland to score 24-straight points to tie the contest before sal­vaging the victory with a last-sec­ond field goal.

Following the loss to the Ravens, the Steelers have now been outscored 50-9 in their last six quarters of play. In that span, the offence has faltered as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has thrown for 304 yards – compared to 278 yards in the first half against the Browns – and missed open targets with off-the mark throws.

After a short week, Pittsburgh have plenty of time to solve their struggles before facing the stingy defence of the Carolina Panthers in their third game, but so far the Steelers’ performance is a cause for concern.

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Hawks manager Ferry takes hiatus in wake of racism row

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In the spotlight: Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry.

 Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry has taken a leave of absence following his racial comments in regards to veteran forward Luol Deng.

“This afternoon, Danny Ferry requested, and I have approved, taking an indefinite leave of absence, effective immediately,” Hawks CEO Steve Koonin said in a statement last night.

Ferry’s comments, made on June 6, described Deng as having “a lit­tle African in him. Not in a bad way, but he’s like a guy who would have a nice store out front but sell you counterfeit stuff out of the back.”

Ferry said he was “repeating comments that were gathered from numerous sources during back­ground conversations and scouting different players.”

In response, Deng released a statement reading, “I’m proud to say I actually have a lot of African in me, not just ‘a little.’ For my entire life, my identity has been a source of pride and strength.”

Co-owner Michael Gearon sent a letter to controlling owner Bruce Levenson calling for Ferry to be fired or forced to resign.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver told USA Today that he didn’t believe Ferry should be fired for his comments.

“The discipline of a team employ­ee is typically determined by the team, and in this case the Hawks hired a prestigious Atlanta law firm to investigate the circumstances of Danny Ferry’s clearly inappropri­ate and unacceptable remarks,” Sil­ver said.

“In my view, those comments, taken alone, do not merit him los­ing his job.”

Gearon’s complaints against Ferry led to an internal investi­gation to find racism within the organisation, which uncovered a 2012 e-mail from Levenson in which he made racially insensitive comments of his own regarding Atlanta’s fan base. Levenson stated that he planned to sell his control­ling interest in the Hawks, in light of former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling being banned and forced to sell his team after his ra­cial comments in a phone call with his then girlfriend were recorded and revealed earlier in the summer.

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