The annual questioning of NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodell and his iron-fist rule is here.
In 2014, the Ray Rice elevator video started it when it was revealed that Goodell botched the entire situation. In 2015, it was Deflategate, which pitted many of the players against Goodell as he “overstepped his boundaries” in punishing New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. In 2016, we have Goodell mandating player interviews over a report which has already been debunked.
Maybe this will be the year something is done about it (but probably not). And while many players feel that Goodell has way too much power over them and the league as a whole, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers says they have no one to blame but themselves.
“If that is the case, we have nobody to blame but ourselves because we had the opportunity in the CBA to make some legitimate changes to that,” said Rodgers on the “Jim Rome Show.” “I think there’s probably too much pressure to come back to a deal when we had all the power on our side, and that was something we should have had negotiated into the CBA because this shouldn’t be someone who is judge, jury, and executioner.”
The former NFL MVP brings up an excellent point—Goodell has no real checks on his power. His word is law in the football world, and like it or not; your favorite player is subject to his whim.
That’s where the Al Jazeera America story comes back into play. The now-defunct news organization spread lies in its documentary which linked professional athletes—most notably retired Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning—to PED use. The primary accuser even came out and admitted to making the story up.
Nonetheless, the NFL did its due diligence. Nothing wrong with that. However, after clearing Manning of any possible wrongdoing, Goodell still isn’t dropping the case for the other, less cooperative players.
James Harrison, Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, and Mike Neal now have until August 25 to interview regarding the matter, or they will be suspended indefinitely.
Packers general manager Ted Thompson made it clear he doesn’t believe the threats have any teeth, and he is not worried about the possibility of losing Matthews and Peppers for any period of time. Harrison, the Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker, on the other hand, announced that he’s prepared to sit out this season if need be. He also re-invited Goodell to interview him at his place on his schedule if it’s so important.
The whole thing sets a horrendous precedent in the league: anything anyone says about any player in the NFL, no matter who or what the circumstances, will be taken and investigated as fact. Guilty until proven innocent.
“It looks bad for the league, especially after Peyton got cleared and this thing has been—there’s been some holes shot at it—but I’m confident those guys have nothing to hide, and they will work something out,” said Rodgers, defending his teammates. “I just think as far as the league goes, there’s been some negative things that have come their way and the way they’ve responded is maybe not been the best way to handle it.”
Yeah, Goodell not handling things well in the players’ eyes seems to be a trend. I, of course, thought he did a fantastic job pushing the Deflategate case (although I did get tired of hearing about it), but certain aspects should have been managed better.
Unfortunately for the players, the current NFL collective bargaining agreement has no five-year opt-out clause like the NBA’s CBA does. So we have at least five more years of tyranny before this CBA expires after the 2020 NFL season.