Over the years, we heard about how the NFL was tough on players. But we always had questions about good ole Roger as "Judge, Jury, and Executioner." How even-handed could he be? And would he be tough when it mattered?
You can look back at Spy Gate, and see the problem. You can look at the way he's suspended players for violating the drug policy (usually its punitive for a minor infraction). And then there's head trauma and concussions and the way he's handled that. And what you might see is a jumbled picture.
But when it comes to off the field problems, it seems he has no clue what he's doing. First, lets look back at the bullying incident. Frankly, he never handled it all. He hired an investigator to make it appear proper. He met with some of the players involved, and Incognito got an indefinite suspension.
He ordered that Incognito undergo counseling, and then re-instated him, and he may sign somewhere. Pouncey got a note that he had to undergo counseling, but never did and challenged the commissioner by saying "I don't need to" which is just plain dumb, and the commish did nothing.
Oh, and lets not forget there were a number of other allegations in the report on the bullying incident that the NFL failed to investigate. Why? Because they didn't matter? Or because Goodell wanted the whole thing to go away?
That situation is certainly never going to be re-opened. It was handled poorly, but it is what it is. I only use it to set the context for what happened with Ray Rice.
See the thing is that Goodell mis-handled this as well. He didn't really investigate, and the story goes that they never asked to see the video. Ever.
And so he suspends the guy for two games, then later says "golly, gee whiz, I made a mistake" but declines to do anything more. Why? Because he hoped the whole thing would go away?
And then the video comes out, and he suspends the guy indefinitely, and the team releases him, so that they can make it go away..."hey look we got a great product here on the field, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain"...
Except I want to call attention to the great and powerful wizard of oz. He needs a new method for dealing with player conduct - on and off the field, and with respect to drug use. The NFL has loads of cash, and should be a leader and set an example - set up a better system for dealing with this kind of stuff.
And I heard this morning that there's a movement to ask for Goodell's resignation. I'm down with that. The guy who pays him self handsomely should be accountable for how he behaves, too.
Keith Olberman (and I know many of you may think this is politically charged, if I'm quoting *him*, but I only use it because he said it well) said of the whole thing:
"It does not truly matter whether they had seen this video before today. The league, the team, the prosecutors, either whitewashed Ray Rice's brutal assault without ever having seen this video, or they saw the video and whitewashed Rice's brutal assault anyway… I accuse prosecutors McClain and Ruberton and Judge Donio even with the full weight of the law behind them of failing to seek or failing to obtain or failing to act upon that in-elevator video. Of failing to put Ray Rice in jail where he belongs. The state of New Jersey must immediately begin an inquiry into whether or not the failures of McClain and Ruberton and Donio are mere incompetence, or if they rose to the level of criminal malfeasance. I accuse President Cass and General Manager Newsome of Baltimore of failing to act internally after the ludicrousness of the Rice two-game suspension should have become apparent even to them. They have had six weeks to add a team suspension to Rice's token league punishment to try to make the scales of justice slightly less out of all balance. They did nothing until they terminated Rice's contract today after all of them failed to get away with it. Mr. Cass and Mr. Newsome put the meaninglessness of their own team's financial and on-field success ahead of the safety and well-being not only of Janay Palmer, but of every woman in this country now threatened by a man who, because of how they covered for Ray Rice, is a little more confident that he can get away with it."
And he's right. This is a bigger issue than Goodell would like us to believe. We can't have highly-paid professional athletes behaving this way, especially when they act as role models (like it or not).
Its time for the NFL to change its policies.