By Left Field
(ISN) – When the judgment comes down on Adrian Peterson’s appeal of his suspension, it’s unfathomable to think that Roger Goodell, the $40 million a year man, will continue his reign as commissioner of the National Football League. You would like to think that collectively the owners of NFL teams have enough smarts and integrity to turf Goodell out on his ear after what has become easily worst year in the history of the league for the handling of off the field issues, but don’t hold your breath. The bottom line for the league and its billionaire owners has always been the bottom line, and the profit margins have continued to climb on Goodell’s watch.
The season hadn’t started when Goodell handed down a slap on the wrist two-game suspension to Baltimore Ravens running back Rice, who was captured on a security video punching out his betrothed inside an elevator in a casino in Atlantic City. Goodell only upped the ante and increased the punishment to six games when the public outcry wouldn’t go away and rose to a roar after the video of Rice dragging his unconscious fiancee off the elevator went public. Goodell said he had made a mistake with the first two suspensions, then hammered Rice again, this time with an indefinite suspension that amounts to a death sentence to Rice’s career. Even then, Roger the dodger still insisted that he never saw the video of the assault in the elevator, despite numerous sources that questioned the validity of that statement. Either way, you don’t have to have more than half an ounce of brains to figure out she didn’t just slip and fall inside that elevator.
Rice said during his appeal on November 5 and 6 that he had been candid with Goodell about what happened from the beginning, and based his defense on his belief that he is being punished three times for the same offense. It should be noted that Goodell and his ever lengthening nose had to be summoned to testify at the appeal, a task he originally tried to avoid by having the league’s legal beagles attend.
Judge Barbara S. Jones saw through the smokescreen and reinstated Rice last week. She said she based her decision in part on having difficulty believing the NFL’s version of events, a polite way of calling Goodell a liar.
Next up for Goodell in this season from hell is Adrian Peterson, the star running back for the Minnesota Vikings who beat his four-year-old child with a switch. Peterson says he thought he had an understanding with Goodell where he would agree to step aside from the game until the criminal charges were heard in a court of law. Although the sentence was arguably laughable – a few hours of community service and a fine that amounts to pocket change for Peterson – the player says he was led to believe by Goodell that he could resume playing after the sentence was handed down, and was stunned by Goodell’s decision to suspend him for the rest of the season. That appeal will be heard this week, and will undoubtedly provide Goodell with another opportunity to fumble the ball on the goal line he keeps moving to suit his purposes. If Peterson wins his appeal, will that finally be enough for the owners to take Goodell’s ineptitude from under the microscope and put him on the firing line? If there’s a shred of cred left in the league, Goodell’s bumbling, lies and propensity for punting a player when he’s down should qualify him for career-ending surgery.
I’m all for ensuring the punishments match the crimes and the bad guys do the time, but you can’t make it up in the huddle when you continue to stumble your way offside and out of bounds. Despite the league’s best suppression techniques, more disturbing stories will surface about off-field behavior that needs to be handled through a clear, thoughtful process that addresses legal and social consequences on a level playing field. Goodell’s approach has been to attempt to introduce damage control that amounts to making up new rules while the game is still in progress.
I mean, how many times do you have to come up short on fourth and one before your bosses finally pull you off the field, no matter how much profit you have placed in their pockets in the past?
How much longer can the owners put up with Goodell’s radioactive efforts and reactive decisions that have cost them a bundle in legal fees alone? How many more opportunities will Goodell get to try and buy another designer life jacket before he’s forced to go down with the ship? My guess is the Vegas odds-makers have him a seven to one favourite to retain his cockeyed crown until the next fiasco explodes in the owners’ faces. As long as they don’t see a significant drop in their earnings, the court of public opinion be damned.