If you tuned in Friday afternoon to watch NFL commissioner Roger Goodell address the media following these nightmare couple of weeks for the NFL, you wasted 45 minutes of your life.
After days of hiding from the media, he spent the entire press conference continuing to dodge the media with his answers to their questions. He had an opportunity to regain some credibility for the league by properly handling these important questions, but once again, Goodell dropped the ball.
Following the release of the second Ray Rice video, Goodell has insisted that the NFL work toward becoming more transparent. He talked about transparency frequently in the press conference, as well, but he was anything but transparent in his answers to the media. This was most evident when he was asked what Ray Rice had told him at their original meeting following the release of the first elevator video.
Goodell said the reason he extended Rice’s suspension from the original two games was because Rice had not been completely upfront with him about his actions in the casino elevator, although Rice claims he told the commissioner exactly what happened when they first met. This was his opportunity to give a little insight into his side of the story, but he hid behind the appeal of the NFL Players’ Association on Rice’s behalf.
Throughout Goodell’s tenure as commissioner, he has consistently made a big deal of personal accountability. When a player claims they didn’t know a banned substance was in his body, Goodell would say that that isn’t an excuse. When Saints coach Sean Payton didn’t know about Bounty Gate going on in his locker room, Goodell famously said “ignorance is not an excuse.”
My question, and the question many other people in the sports world have, is this: Where’s your personal accountability, Mr. Commissioner? Someone in the league office knew something about the tape. Goodell said about a couple dozen times in the press conference that he messed up the Rice situation, but admitting you made a mistake isn’t always good enough, as I’m sure many players penalized by Goodell can attest to.
Other topics that Goodell brought up frequently in this press conference were the NFL establishing new committees to aid in creating conduct policies and the independent investigation of ex-FBI director Robert Muller.
The problem was, he never went into details on either of these topics, or any other topics for that matter. Who will be on these committees and what exactly will they do? What will his role be in the committee selecting process, committee decision making process and in this investigation? He’s making the committees and investigation sound more like a PR stunt rather than a tool to actually make a change in the league.
How can Roger Goodell keep insisting that he has no intention of resigning? Even if he is to stay on as commissioner, how can the league keep running the way it currently is with him as the judge, jury and executioner in everything player conduct related? Where are the checks and balances to ensure the decisions and actions of the league office are in line?
When CNN’s Rachel Nichols asked about his dictator-like control of league discipline and what changes were to be made, he kept saying all options are on the table. We want to hear that there will be wholesale changes, Roger. Right now, the league’s credibility is at an all-time low and that starts with the commissioner, but Goodell’s continued ignorance and egomania are preventing the league from getting its credibility back anytime soon.