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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