Thursday, September 11, 2014
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is taking a lot of heat tonight because it appears a police official sent the league office the nefarious tape of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice delivering a punch to his wife that knocked her unconscious in an Atlantic City, N.J., hotel elevator back in February. Not only that, the police official has a recording indicating someone in the NFL acknowledged receipt of the tape back in April and indicated the recipient actually viewed it, describing it as "terrible." This after Goodell went on CBS News earlier this week and said absolutely no one inside the NFL had seen the tape until TMZ.com released it to the world on Monday.
But I say Goodell has more than that to answer for and, in my mind, when the NFL received and first saw the tape is the least of his worries. Look, we already saw a rape of Rice and his then fiancée walking into the elevator. A few seconds later, another tape depicted Rice dragging her unconscious body out of the elevator. We saw these tapes back in August. And, if there was any question about what happened on the elevator, Rice answered that by admitting he hit her. So there’s that.
So Goodell responds by handing Rice a two-game suspension, illustrating to the world he doesn’t take violence against women seriously, To give him the only credit he’s due in this entire affair he later admitted, but only after being roundly criticized for his lenient treatment of Rice, that perhaps he made a mistake and announced future offenders would be punished more severely.
But here’s my problem with that. Goodell is still not interested in seeing justice is done or that the truth is revealed in this incident. From Day 1 until right this moment he has only been interested in protecting the brand and, in so doing, he has soiled it.
During his initial "investigation" into the crime, when he interviewed Janay Rice about the what happened in the elevator and the events surrounding it, he talked to her with both Rice and Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti in the room, sitting on either side of her. You kidding?
Earlier this week Goodell sent a letter to NFL owners saying "It would have been illegal for law enforcement to provide [the] Rice video to [the] NFL" Look the FBI claims it hired Secret Service and ex-FBI agents to look into this and now Goodell is trying to convince us those aces couldn’t get a copy of the tape but TMZ.com could? You kidding?
Then the NFL had the audacity to claim it was opening an "independent" investigation into how the league conducted itself in this matter and that a former FBI director no less, one Robert S. Mueller III, will conduct the investigation. Here’s my problem with that. At the same time the NFL said this so-called "independent investigation" will be overseen by two other attorneys, John Mara and Art Rooney. Oh, by the way, Mara is also the owner of the New York Giants and Rooney is the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers. How can that be called "independent" by any stretch of the imagination? That would be like having Dick Cheney heading an "independent" investigation to whether the United States should have invaded Iraq. You kidding?
We are also told that the NFL is getting "serious" about domestic violence and will not tolerate it among their ranks. Sure. Fine. Whatever. San Francisco defensive lineman Ray McDonald was arrested Aug. 31 for felony domestic violence after police were called to his home and discovered his fiancée with "visible injuries." McDonald made three tackles in last week's win over the Cowboys and the team plans to start him this weekend as well. On June 15, Carolina Panthers' all-pro defensive end Greg Hardy was convicted of assaulting a female (his girlfriend) and communicating threats. (To seemed to be a particularly vicious attack, according to the police report and the victim's own account of the incident.) Hardy also played the opening weekend and is scheduled to start again Sunday. You kidding? So much for "zero tolerance."
How many more times will Goodell goof things up in this matter before he finally resigns or is fired? I, for one, have lost all trust in Goodell and the NFL "brand." I honestly believe millions of other Americans feel exactly the same way. How long will the NFL continue to let that trust and that brand corrode?