Since taking over for then NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue in August of 2006, Roger Goodell has dealt with very many off-field and on-field situations regarding the NFL players, coaches, and NFL owners. He has dealt with the likes of the off-field antics of Adam "Pacman" Jones, the off-field antics of former NFL player Chris Henry, who has since unfortunately passed, the on-field antics of Brandon Meriweather, Bill Belichick's spygate,, Riley Cooper, and many, many more. Most recently having to deal with the on-going Ray Rice fiasco which has ultimately resulted in the running back's release from the Baltimore Ravens and indefinite suspension from the NFL.
While at times it has seemed that he has done an amendable job as the commissioner, holding the league together, punishing players, coaches and owners for their wrong doings, he has also dropped the ball in some cases, again, most notably with the Rice saga. He has been in the middle of an NFL Lockout in which he was right in the middle of an entire situation where there was almost no end in sight, not until New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft put the full-court pressure on Goodell to accept the players offer and the owners offer to bring America its favorite sport back as well as players it's job. He has dealt with replacement referees when the league's regular referees went on strike when Goodell wouldn't accept a deal to allow them back. But once watching the replacement referees botch numerous calls and change the landscape of a game, he caved and gave into what the referees union were offering to the NFL and Roger Goodell.
This offseason could not have been any worse for the NFL and Goodell. He's seen multiple arrests for anything from possession of marijuana to DUI's to other drug related arrests to arrests for domestic violence. This is where I believe he has dropped the ball most in the case of domestic violence. Carolina All-Pro defensive end Greg Hardy was arrested earlier in the offseason for assaulting and tormenting his then girlfriend with multiple weapons and threatening to kill her in the process. He was then charged with a misdemeanor and quickly appealed the charge, delaying any kind of punishment from Goodell and the NFL. But if you're trying to save your image or "Protect The Shield", referring to the NFL logo, shouldn't he be suspended pending trial? The trial is in November, so if you're going to suspend a player for taking a prescribed drug his personal doctor gave him for his health or well-being, why shouldn't an athlete be suspended for a domestic dispute while awaiting trial for it?
Which also leads me to the latest and main reason I'm writing about this, Ray Rice. The NFL and Roger Goodell announced in a statement right after the video of Rice striking then girlfriend Janay Palmer (Now Janay Rice) with a crushing blow knocking her unconscious, that they hadn't seen the video until then. That they had tried to obtain the video from the casino security team in Atlantic City, which is apparently run by the New jersey police department. So because they hadn't "seen" the video, they being the Ravens and Goodell, they decided to turn the other cheek, suspend Rice two games for being involved in this matter and then pretended none of this ever happened. The NFL has so many connections. How could they not have obtained this video? How could they sit there and think that the effort that they put into hiding this problem is acceptable? If they would have put a 1/4th of an effort in obtaining the video as they did hiding it, this would have been resolved a long time ago. So once they decided to watch the video, they attempted to make themselves, as well as the Ravens, tried to save their own image, suspend Rice indefinitely and release Rice.
I watched a debate about Roger Goodell on @ESPN_FirstTake this week when the Ray Rice video surfaced and the take on it was very, very good. The first 6 or so minutes of it is well worth it:
Do you actually believe Goodell? There is no way that Goodell and the NFL legitimately tried to get their hands on the tape. I don't think Goodell wanted to see the tape in all honesty because again, he is trying to "Protect The Shield". The NFL's image is about as bad as it's been. in a long time, if not ever. And that, my friends, is not ever good. It only further makes the NFL brand awful. @RealSkipBayless brings up a good point for Goodell in the Ray Rice situation, saying essentially that the NFL was following the law. If no charges were pressed and legal action wasn't required then there isn't too much that they could do. That would be his only bail out. But he doesn't to go by what the law says. This is Rice's, Hardy's, Belichick's, Cooper's, and you name it's work environment. He has control of that. The domestic disputes go unnoticed. The marijuana, PED's, and DUI's take the cake. I'm not saying they shouldn't be recognized for handling business and suspending players for those issue's but domestic violence goes unnoticed they turn the other way and pretend not to see it.
So, I ask you all of my viewers one simple question with a few potential answers:
Has Roger Goodell dropped the ball in his time as the commissioner? Look at all suspensions in his time. Look at how he has handled serious controversy:
Everyone listed above were able to redeem themselves after all they had done and I firmly believe that Rice will get his chance to redeem himself. I believe he deserves that chance, but after seeing how brutal the video really was, I think that the time off for him will be good. Maintaining his silence will go a long way.
Back to Goodell. I do think he could have handled this situation better as well as the Hardy situation. Hiding something as bad as this makes him and the NFL awful. I do also think that he should be subject to resign but I don't think that will ever happen. The owners like him too much, but that is really it. Time will tell and hopefully these kind of issues will come to a stop and we can just focus on the real matter at hand: