One Year Later and still “Goodell Under Fire”

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Almost exactly one year ago people across the country were shocked by TMZ’s release of the infamous Ray Rice video. A few days later Adrian Peterson was arrested for beating his four year old son bloody with a tree branch. Once again people were horrified by the visual evidence. Greg Hardy’s name percolated across the internet. People began sifting through the terrifying details of his domestic violence trial. The 2014 NFL season was just underway and nobody was talking about football. All the headlines read “Roger Goodell Under Fire.”

Goodell had initially suspended Rice for two games. After the Rice video, Peterson photos, and Hardy trial transcripts surfaced Goodell resorted to double-secret probation – the mysterious Commissioner’s Exempt List. Peterson and Hardy were placed on that list and removed from the playing field while collecting their 2014 salaries. Goodell extended Rice’s suspension to “indefinite” only to see that ruling overturned by former federal judge Barbara Jones serving as an arbitrator:

“In this arbitration, the NFL argues that Commissioner Goodell was misled when he disciplined Rice the first time. Because, after careful consideration of all of the evidence, I am not persuaded that Rice lied to, or misled, the NFL at his June interview, I find that the indefinite suspension was an abuse of discretion and must be vacated,” Jones’ decision stated.

Peterson was indefinitely suspended. Hardy was suspended for ten games. Peterson won an appeal and was reinstated in April. Hardy’s suspension was reduced to four games. Meanwhile, both men collected every penny of their 2014 salaries. Peterson resigned with the Vikings for three years and $42 million. Hardy signed as a free-agent with Dallas for one year and $11,311,600. Ray Rice isn’t good enough at football to embarrass the NFL anymore on national television.

It was all a colossal mess. Now the world is subjected to Deflategate. Once again Sheriff Goodell overshot his target. He suspended Brady for four games – the same suspension Greg Hardy received. Once again a judge neutered the Commish. Roger Goodell and his 32-member posse of owners rode into town and got tarred and feathered. Now nobody wants him at the NFL’s 2015 Grand Opening.

They don’t care. And there is absolutely no explanation for Goodell’s tenure except money. Goodell was gifted a new contract by the owners in 2012 that keeps him King through 2018. NFL clubs unanimously approved a resolution at a league meeting that said:

“The commissioner has performed his duties in an exemplary fashion since his election in 2006 and the membership has determined that the interests of the NFL would be best served by a continuation of the commissioner’s employment beyond the terms of his current employment contract.”

Goodell banked $44 million in 2012 and $35 million in 2013. Who knows how much he made last year, or will make this year? He doesn’t have to report his salary. Last week Darren Rovell tweeted that if the owners want him out they will have to cough up a tidy $150 million to buy him out.

Goodell is trying to nurse his legacy with confused and obfuscated attempts at addressing issues like brain trauma and steroids. The rules changes have devastated the allure of the game like a helmet to the head. Football, as it is supposed to be played, is a deadly sport and no one is ever going to change that. If you really want to know what football does to players you can find out. The NFL lawyered up for years to keep that information private. That data is no longer proprietary. Steroids? What a joke. In 1980 there were only three NFL players weighing in at more than 300 bills and now there are nearly 400 men playing over that weight. It’s more than nutrition.

The domestic violence issue only made the spotlight brighter. It exposed Goodell and the NFL owners for the old white men that they are. Their reaction was too little, too late; and when they went back to bullying the NFLPA the courts slapped them down. Now the heat from those press conference spotlights makes them sweat. Their ruddy cheeks can’t hide the veins that pump their cold blood through their small minds.

As a whole, the NFL’s revenue is estimated to be about $9.5 billion per year. The overall market value of the 32 teams that make up the league is estimated to be $46 billion. That’s hard to ignore. So is Goodell’s $150 million golden parachute. Roger the Dodger will get out of the Deflategate debacle. One year after Ray Rice the headlines still read “Goodell Under Fire,” but $46 billion can buy enough water to put it out. Shame is a lot cheaper, and the NFL’s patriarchs love the art of the deal.

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