A week or so ago, National Football League Commissioner sent out one of his hired henchmen to defend the league’s decision to suspend Baltimore Ravens’ running back just two games. NFL V.P. Adolpho Birch appeared on ESPN’s ‘Mike and Mike’ and proceeded to make the entire situation even worse as he stumbled over answers and twisted himself into knots defending the the league’s decision.
What we all wanted was not to hear from the minions, but to hear from Goodell himself and we finally got our chance when he spoke on the Rice suspension on Friday. We should not have been surprised by his words which did nothing but tow the company line and give the same lip service Birch had given.
Goodell’s words in italics…
“We have a very firm policy that domestic violence is not acceptable in the NFL, and there are consequences for that,” the commissioner said. “Obviously, when we are going through the process of evaluating an issue and whether there will be discipline, you look at all of the facts that are available to us.”
“We have to remain consistent,” he said. “We can’t just make up the discipline. It has to be consistent with other cases, and it was in this matter.”
I found two things disturbing with the above comments. First, he claims the NFL can’t just make up the discipline. That is 100% wrong because there is nothing in the collective bargaining agreement that covers knocking your significant other out cold in an elevator. Things that are collectively bargained are agreed upon by the league and the players. Therefore, Goodell and the NFL would have had cart blanche to suspend Rice with a much more harsh punishment.
Secondly, Goodell was asked to compare this suspension to that of Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and as expected Goodell said there had been a prior incident in his past which warranted the long suspension. Let’s keep in mind that Roethlisberger was never videotaped, never arrested, never charged, never made to agree to a plea deal and so on.
If you want to say Roethlisberger was guilty of poor judgment then I can certainly understand that especially in the Georgia alleged incident. The first one that Goodell always cites was a money grab of the highest order and NFL security knows it just as they know it was the case in Georgia as well. Before you get pissed off, I suggest you read through the two incident reports and articles to educate yourself.
As for Rice, I thought he was very honest and contrite when he spoke to the media. I really do believe this has affected him greatly as it should have. I seriously hope that Rice can move forward and that he never again touches his wife or any other woman. My anger towards him is obvious but not nearly as much as it is towards Goodell.
I truly believe it is time for the Commissioner to completely remove himself from disciplinary decisions. He is losing terribly in the court of public opinion and looks even worse after the swift action of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver who hasn’t even been on his detail a year yet.
We all know that Goodell’s main mission is to make money for the owners. He is excelling at doing that but also has a myriad of other issues on his plate as well. Playoff expansion, London, concussions, and a growing list of felons are all weighing him down.
He can avoid a lot of headaches this way too.