Former U.S. Judge Barbara Jones ruled on Friday that Baltimore Ravens Running Back Ray Rice did not mislead Goodell and therefore should not have been disciplined beyond the initial two-game suspension.
This ruling has put into question my allegiance to the NFL in contrast to my moral and ethical duties as a father.
If Ray Rice didn’t lie in his meeting with the league office, one could make the assumption Goodell misled the public and an influential number of media members. With this latest blow to Goodell and his public image, it is clear to see the commissioner is no longer fit to lead.
In an attempt to save face, Goodell sent a memo to the league:
“No part of Judge Jones’s decision questions the Commissioner’s honesty or integrity, nor his good faith consideration of the issue when he imposed the indefinite suspension on Mr. Rice. Nor is there any suggestion that the Commissioner had seen the video from inside the elevator before it became public or knew of the contents of the video.”
The truth is Goodell has never been the leader, “the most powerful man in sports” as he has been called in the past.
The fact of the matter is Goodell is merely a puppet for the 32 NFL Owners who continue to employ him despite his integrity being deconstructed to rubble.
The NFL’s owners fell in love with Goodell the moment he stepped into his current role eight years ago. Dubbed “The Sheriff”, Goodell abused the system and became judge and jury for every case, big and small that came before him. The owners didn’t care that reasoning never backed up his rulings, they didn’t care that he was creating a divide between the players and the league offices with every fine and suspension he handed down.
Goodell was changing the image of the NFL and he was making each of the 32 owners a lot of money. In 2006, the NFL reported $6.3 billion in total revenue. Last year that number was up to over $9 billion. During that time Goodell’s annual salary has gone from $11 million in 2006 to over $44 million this year.
The league kept making money and the owners rewarded Goodell with astronomical raises. This quid pro quo was not lost on the owners or the Commissioner.
In 2007, Goodell levied $750,000 in fines against the Patriots for spying on opponents. No one was suspended. Goodell admittedly destroyed all evidence. New England owner Robert Kraft and Goodell are good friends. Kraft has been an outspoken supporter of Goodell since the Rice case came to light.
In 2010, according to Don Van Natta, Jr. and Kevin Van Valkenburg of ESPN, “Goodell conducted a closed-door coin flip to determine whether the Jets or Giants would host the first home game at the new MetLife Stadium in September 2010. The Giants won, Goodell announced, but no team representatives witnessed Goodell’s coin flip. Johnson accused Goodell of rigging the coin toss for Giants owner John Mara, whom Goodell counts as one of his closest confidants.”
In the same article, Van Natta, Jr. and Van Valkenburg detail how Ravens owner Steve Biscotti pleaded with Goodell to be lenient on Rice. While most thought Rice would receive a six-game suspension, Goodell decided on two–the requested suspension by Biscotti.
So you have to ask yourself; how much is your integrity worth?
Being a new dad has changed my viewpoint on just about everything. These things matter.
The latest news regarding Ray Rice, Roger Goodell and the NFL has me in a serious moral and ethical quandary. How can I sit idly by and watch a league that relays the message that above all else, money talks?
Goodell continues to sit on the hot seat while his employers continue to collect record numbers of cash. In 2011, CBS, Fox and NBC all signed new deals amounting to $1 billion per year. ESPN agreed to pay the NFL $1.9 billion for Monday Night Football. This year, DirecTV agreed on an 8-year $12 billion deal.
Goodell has stated his goal is to reach total revenue sums of $25 billion by 2027. The way the league is going, will my son and I still be fans?
More and more studies are released every month detailing how much influence a father has on his child. Tim Kasser, Richard Koestner and Natasha Lekes conducted a 26-year long study and found the most influential factor in a child’s emotional health was how involved the father was in a child’s care.
We can look at the good that surrounds the game; the players, coaches and fans that help make the world a better place with selfless acts of human decency. There are feel good stories in every city.
Yet in every great city, there is a game behind the game and an owner who continues to employ a Commissioner who has lied to “protect the shield.”
In my personal situation, I think it’s more important to expose my son to the positive rather than the negative. In the film Wall Street, character Gordon Gecko said, “Greed is good.” I have a different spin on that infamous quote; greed is everywhere, but so is good. So while Goodell continues his song and dance regarding his integrity still being pristine, and the shield being in tact, while the 32 owners continue to cash checks from great fans worldwide, I’ll just choose—for my sake— and for my son’s sake, to change the tune.
For some of Wai Sallas’ pieces focusing on the good in the NFL, see:
For more of our coverage of Ray Rice and related issues, see:
Checking Athletes’ Privilege (Oct. 28, 2014)
Roger S. Goodell, Will You Please Go Now? (Sept. 22, 2014)
Ray Rice, Janay Rice, the NFL and TMZ: Many Sides, One Missing Topic (Sept. 10, 2014)
Ray Rice is Out of the NFL: But Why Did it Take Until Monday? (Sept. 8, 2014)
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jim More