I am sure Roger Goodell is pleased with himself after a rough start to the 2014 NFL season. The fact that he still has a job in the NFL is reason enough for his happy state of mind. He could have easily been removed from his position as King of the NFL, or as he likes to call it, Commissioner. Ray Rice got the ball rolling over the summer with the video of him going caveman on his fiancé by dragging her unconscious from an elevator. Poor Roger had to deal with this ugly mess instead of worrying about ways to expand the NFL empire even further.
Well things got worse when video surfaced of Ray Rice actually punching his girlfriend in the face. Goodell had a lot of ‘splainin to do! He was roundly criticized for not being tough enough on Rice as he gave him a mere two game suspension. He then turned the tables on Rice by suspending him indefinitely based on the new video evidence that Goodell claimed was much different than what he was told by Rice himself. I, along with most thinking folk did not believe that for a second. Goodell knew what happened but screwed up the punishment and made it look as though the NFL was soft on woman beaters.
Next Goodell had to deal with more players accused of domestic abuse. It seemed like a new story popped up weekly for a few weeks there. You would think players would get the message and be on their best behavior after the Rice debacle was a major national story. But headlines kept coming and Goodell was backpedaling the whole time trying to get a grip on things.
The league did start taking domestic violence more seriously. They had no choice with the limelight on them at that point. They crafted a new policy that was much more strict for players accused of hitting women. It was about time.
Roger Goodell hoped to get the whole Ray Rice issue off his plate as he was being accused of lying about not seeing the video of Janay Rice being knocked out before it was leaked nationally. So the Commish hired an independent investigator to find out what really happened and if anyone in the league office ever saw the footage before it was released to the public air waves. This independent investigation was a dog and pony show in my eyes. No way a guy hires an investigator that would possibly find cause for Goodell himself to be fired. The Commissioner is a very powerful man and would never make the mistake of hiring a guy that could get him fired.
As I expected, the investigation found that not one person in the NFL Offices saw the video of the Ray Rice punch prior to TMZ releasing it. That cleared Goodell of that issue, but the Mueller report did point out mistakes that the NFL made during the entire incident and ways to correct those errors. The investigation had to have some air of legitimacy so it had to have points of negativity of course.
Maybe some people believe that giant corporations like the NFL are on the up and up when they get in hot water. And maybe those same naive folks think that Robert Mueller is a man of impeccable character just because he worked in law enforcement his whole life. I’m too jaded for that nonsense and don’t buy it for a second. I admit that Goodell may not have seen the video in question. But it is only because he chose not to look for it. But if he did see it, I have no doubt whatsoever that he would have it covered up effectively.
Do I think the NFL will do a better job going forward in dealing with domestic abuse? I believe so. They have no choice as the light will get brighter if they screw up again on this same issue. They will err on the side of being too hard on players who even have the appearance of guilt. Adrian Peterson, even though he went too far, disciplined his child in a manner that is approved by a good deal of the American population. Yet the NFL made it clear they would not tolerate it by making sure he sat out the rest of the 2014 season even after his court case ended.
I sincerely hope the NFL does have its act together going forward. I love the NFL, but I don’t want to support an organization that stands idly buy while some of its players beat on women. I want to cover a league that makes every effort possible to do the right things morally. If they screw up, I want to see them admit it and make corrections.
I will give Goodell credit for saying time and again that he messed up personally by being too easy on Ray Rice. He was never going to say he messed up badly enough to be removed from his job as King of the NFL though. If he believed he is the best man for the job, I can see why. It is human nature to protect one’s own position. Very few people would just fall on the sword and give up the power that comes with a job like Commissioner of the NFL. The $40 million a year would worth fighting for also of course.
I certainly would not give the NFL an “A+” for cleaning up their act. But I would say a “B” is a big improvement from the “F” that the league started out with at the beginning of 2014. The main thing is that attention was brought to the issue of domestic abuse. As long as the public does not let that attention fade, the NFL should follow suit along with all other organizations as well.