Saturday, September 27, 2014

Goodbye Roger Goodell

The NFL commissioner has taken considerable flak lately due to his handling (or mishandling) of the infamous Ray Rice domestic violence incident. Goodell faces heavy criticism for the initial two game suspension and for accusations of lying when he announced he had not seen the full video at the time he handed down the first suspension, a statement at odds with what appears to be the truth.

Goodell and the NFL continue to insist they did nothing wrong, yet the calls for him to resign are coming loud and fast from many directions. The questions continue to be debated: when did Goodell know of the full extent of the video, and was his response appropriate? Many Goodell critics are saying, goodbye Roger.

The problem began when a video from February 2014 showed Ray Rice, then of the Baltimore Ravens, appear to drag his unconscious fiancé (now wife) from a casino elevator. In the video, Rice leaves her limp body on the floor for several minutes before attempting to pick her up. Both Rice and his fiancé were arrested and assault charges were filed.

Rice was indicted in March, and in July, the NFL suspended him for the first two games of the 2014 season. The criminal charges against Rice were dropped, however the NFL suspension remained in place while Goodell admitted in a letter sent to NFL teams that he "didn't get it right" [the suspension], according to the Associated Press story.

The problem worsened considerably when new video showed the altercation inside the elevator, including the punch and collapse of Rice's fiancé. When the video was made public, the Ravens released Rice, followed by his indefinite suspension from the NFL.

Goodell and the NFL announced they had not seen the video, according to a quote from this NBC Sports article, Goodell: I assumed there was another video but didn’t see it, by Michael David Smith in September 2014:

"We had not seen any videotape of what occurred in the elevator. We assumed that there was a video, we asked for video, we asked for anything that was pertinent, but we were never granted that opportunity," Goodell said.

In a CBS News interview conducted by Norah O'Donnell, posted online on September 10, Goodell was asked if NFL personnel had seen the second video.

Goodell responded: "No one in the NFL, to my knowledge, and I had been asked that same question and the answer to that is no. We were not granted that. We were told that was not something we would have access to. On multiple occasions, we asked for it. And on multiple occasions we were told no."

Goodell's assertion has been disputed, leading to accusations that he lied and attempted to cover up the fact that he and the NFL may have known all along about the full video and the punch that left Rice's fiancé unconscious.

In an article by Gary Myers on New York Daily, the Associated Press is mentioned as reporting: … a law enforcement official claims he sent the elevator video to an NFL executive in April so the league could have it before Goodell disciplined Rice."

Further information came to light on September 25, when Yahoo News ran an online story by Rob Maaddi, AP Source: Video addressed to NFL security chief. According to the story, the unnamed law enforcement official who had previously reported sending the Rice video to the NFL, now stated he had allowed the media to update that story with new information indicating he had addressed the package to NFL security chief Jeffrey Miller. Miller denied receiving the video, further adding to the perception that the NFL and Goodell have not been forthright in their responses to any of this.

"It’s not just messing up. He [Goodell] lied. He lied to the public," said former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell in an Associated Press story that appeared on Fox in September.

Both's Barry Petchesky and's Patrick Rishe commented that NFL reporters such as ESPN's Chris Mortensen and Jane McManus had information suggesting the NFL and probably Commissioner Roger Goodell had seen, or at least knew the full extent of the videos.

Rishe wrote:"… [an NFL] source provided accounts of what happened in a manner which would strongly suggest that the source had seen the video witnessed by thousands today.

"In short, it seems highly likely that the NFL was FULLY informed of ALL evidence prior to Monday’s revelations."

So we are now asked to believe that a package sent to and specifically addressed to the head of NFL security did not reach its destination. Perhaps the league needs to hire a new mail person; someone who can figure out how to deliver packages properly in the building. It is quite difficult to believe that Miller did not receive the package, and it is equally difficult to believe Goodell hadn't seen it either.

If Goodell knew about the extent of the violent assault, and all he did was suspend Rice for two games, it brings into question his integrity in dealing with cases of domestic abuse, and it casts a shadow on the NFL. Did Goodell make a mistake? Yes, and he admitted it. However, it appears that Goodell and the NFL are more interested in covering up the Rice incident (and other similar incidents?) and minimizing the responsibility of the NFL in dealing with the issue.

Rice may be the man that committed the crime, but it is Goodell who is taking the heat now. If he steps down or is fired, it's not because he made a mistake in initially suspending Rice for two games – it will happen because he wasn't honest about the whole thing. Such mishandling – whether intentional or not – is unacceptable for an organization such as the NFL.

The evidence suggests Goodell did know; that he lied and covered it up. If that is the case, then we should be saying goodbye Roger. It is time for him to step down and make way for new blood – someone who can exhibit more integrity in dealing with difficult issues.

© 2014 Larry Manch

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