Even though the NFL had an epic playoff run with many nail biters and a Super Bowl that will have folks talking for years, Roger Goodell had to be relieved the season was over. The Commish didn’t exactly have his best year on the job. Ray Rice, puncher of a female, somehow came out looking better than Goodell at one point in the season. Domestic violence became the main story line for the first few weeks of the 2014 season. And when all that looked like it was fading away, his old buddy Robert Kraft was embroiled in a team scandal involving deflated footballs in the AFC Title game. If Roger Goodell could have called in sick for the entire year, this would have been a good time to do so. 2014 sucked for the commissioner of the NFL to say the least.
Will 2015 be any better for Goodell? That depends on how he handles any incidents that pop up along the way. The league now has a framework set up to deal with domestic violence issues, but they will be scrutinized so they best use every resource and expert in that field available to them. For instance, Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers was on the commissioner’s exempt list last year after being accused of beating his girlfriend. He was convicted, but filed an appeal. The case was dropped after his ex-girlfriend, Nicole Holder would not cooperate. It appears she reached a financial settlement which led to her disinterest in pursuing the criminal action. If that’s the case, the woman was simply paid off and Hardy walked away a free man. The guy made over $13 million last year while playing just one game due to the suspension so he certainly had the cash to pay her to keep quiet.
How is Goodell going to handle the Hardy case and others like it? At this point the NFL is doing its own investigation with information coming from the original trial. They are not depending on the American justice system, which favors guys who make $13 million a year, to do the right thing. That’s the right play. If Hardy’s ex-girlfriend felt like she would rather increase her bankroll than help punish a her alleged attacker, that’s her choice. No one can make that decision but her. However, Hardy is still a dangerous man to future females if the reports of the first trial are accurate. The NFL as his employer should take severe action if they find he got away with an incident that could have easily left his ex-girlfriend dead. I am more interested in this investigation than the DeflateGate nonsense.
I hope Roger Goodell realizes just how much media attention the NFL is going to get going forward. It’s not going to get any lighter for him or his league, especially after the 2014 season. Every idiot has a video camera on their phone and there are a few nuts who try to become a part of the headlines when they see a pro athlete in public. More and more athletes are announcing their own news through Twitter and personal websites also, so there is that to deal with as well.
Pro sports commissioners of the past didn’t have to deal with this type of aggressive media like Goodell is left with. Sure there are plenty of NFL reporters that will tow the line and act like good little lapdogs such as Peter King. But Goodell now has to deal with the TMZs of the world. Guys that can make him look pretty stupid when they make points about how easy it would be for the NFL to get security tapes from a casino. A single phone call, I believe it was in the Ray Rice case. Goodell would do well to hire someone from TMZ to prep him for any questions that may make him appear a fool again in the future.
What about NFL fans? What do they think of the NFL’s leader? As a fan myself I dislike him greatly. He’s the smug type of guy that you’d just like to punch in the neck for the hell of it. He seems hypocritical on many issues and I feel like most fans don’t trust him or like him. Not that any of that matters to Goodell. He’s there to do a job and he is focused only on that. Whether Joe Falcon or Jane Seahawk likes him means very little to a guy pulling in $40 million a year. And ultimately the fans care mostly about the games and a few beers on Sundays. Fans might want a more likable guy running their favorite sports league, but as long as the action remains great they could really care less. Goodell’s douchebaggery is something to talk about around the water cooler during the week once the games are over from the weekend.
The NFL is a giant monster of a company. Take a look at other leaders running such organizations. You will find a few likable guys that seem like normal people. But many of these leaders are just like Roger Goodell. They have tunnel vision and only seek to move forward. Guys in those positions can’t get caught up in too much public opinion nonsense. They have to handle a situation and never for one second doubt what they are doing is the right thing. That’s why Goodell never once even came close to saying he may need to consider stepping down back during the Ray Rice mess. Admitting anything of the sort would have meant he wasn’t the right man for the job and shown him to be weak. He did admit his mistakes, but was never close to saying someone else could do the job better.
Roger Goodell is a shark with one goal in mind, growing the NFL. There are going to be bumps along the way and he will have to deal with the human element of the players’ screw ups. But make no mistake, he plans on pushing right through all such issues. If he has to wear blinders on some issues, he’s not opposed to that either.