SPORTS WATCH | Goodell’s Lack of Strong Leadership Grounds for Firing

07/30/14 | By | More

It’s time the National Football League fires its commissioner, Roger Goodell, and hire someone who can be serious in running a first-class, honorable organization its fans can be proud of. The two-game ban Goodell handed to Ravens running back Ray Rice for punching and knocking a woman out is outrageous.

Women should be outraged. Men should be outraged. N.F.L. team owners should be outraged. All football fans should be outraged. Goodell’s two-game punishment is a joke that’s not even remotely funny.

For violating the N.F.L.s personal conduct policy, Goodell handed Rice his punishment last week as training camps around the league got under way. The punishment is in relation to Rice’s arrest last February when he allegedly punched his then fiancée and now wife Janay Palmer so hard he knocked her out. The incident allegedly occurred in an Atlantic City elevator. A disturbing surveillance video shows rice dragging the unconscious Palmer out of the elevator.

Along with the two-game suspension, Goodell also handed Rice a fine of close to $60,000, or basically a paycheck for one game.

“The league is an entity that depends on integrity and in the confidence of the public, and we simply cannot tolerate conduct that endangers others or reflects negatively on our game,” Goodell stated in a letter to Rice, which was released to the public after the punishment was levied. “This is particularly true with respect to domestic violence and other forms of violence against women.”

In court, Rice was charged for felony assault but, according to The New York Times, has since entered into a pretrial intervention program and will not serve any jail time.

Ever since Rice’s punishment was announced, Goodell has been under scrutiny because many, including myself, believe the punishment should have been much, much worse especially when you compare his punishment to the punishment other players have received for less serious infractions.

Let’s take performance-enhancing drugs for instance. Any player who tests positive for a PED, they are automatically suspended for four game – twice the number of games Rice received for cracking his girlfriend in the face.

So far, it’s been hard to understand Goodell’s reasoning for his two-game punishment. According to The Times, which used a source in the N.F.L. with knowledge of Goodell’s deliberations, Goodell based his decision off of the legal developments in the altercation. Since Rice will not go to jail, and his initial felony charge was reduced to basic counseling, it didn’t make sense, apparently to Goodell, to strike the hammer down on Rice and deliver a severe punishment – even if there is video evidence of a woman completely knocked out.

If this is truly Goodell’s line of reasoning here, it still doesn’t make sense. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was suspended for four games in 2009 in relation to sexual assault civil lawsuit. In that alleged incident, Roethlisberger was never arrested or charged yet he still received a greater punishment than what Rice received last week.

The fact of the matter, here, is that Goodell and the N.F.L. is soft on punishing players when it comes to domestic violence. As Sporting News pointed out, the N.F.L. has a “terrible” record when it comes to dealing with players and domestic abuse. Former Ravens Fabian Washington and Cary Williams were suspended a combined three games after being charged with domestic violence. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall embarrassed the Broncos organization in 2008 and was suspended only three games (later reduced to one) after numerous domestic issues.

Now I have heard over the past week on sports talk radio from numerous legal analysts on why we shouldn’t be comparing drug punishments to domestic violence punishments, like its somehow not comparing apples to apples. I say bullshit.

For the N.F.L. in this instance, perception is reality. While there may be some legal details buried beneath all of this, what the public sees and believes is that the N.F.L. cares more about its drug testing policy rather than domestic violence. I know Goodell and the rest of his cronies would say this isn’t true but his punishment of Rice says otherwise.

If it were me in Goodell’s shoes after what I saw on that surveillance video, I would have wasted no time in handing a six-game suspension to Rice. Period. If he’s caught a second time? Banned for life. His professional football playing days are over.

Harsh? Yes. An example set? Yes. And that’s what Goodell has failed to do as a commissioner here. He’s failed to set an example that domestic violence, or any violence for that matter, will not be tolerated by the N.F.L. Goodell came out soft here and I believe it the N.F.L. is going to pay for it in the long run.

The timing of all of this doesn’t benefit Goodell. Not long ago, we just watched National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver take the podium and hand down a lifetime ban to L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling for racist comments he made on an audio recording.

Silver could have taken the soft approach and handed him a year suspension from the team and counseling. With the threat of players boycotting the league, Silver did what he had to do and ban Sterling for life. It was the right and gutsy call by the young commissioner. Goodell needs to take some of that gutsiness and make the N.F.L. a more reputable place.

No, there are no players threatening to boycott the 2014 N.F.L. season if Rice’s punishment isn’t increased but I do think N.F.L. team owners, who are the collective boss of Goodell, need to put pressure on Goodell to do a better job.

Rice’s punishment should have been a minimum of six games, if not more. And if Goodell isn’t man enough to hand that punishment down, then it’s up to the team owners to find someone who will.

Like I said, the current perception of the N.F.L. is the reality. And the reality in the N.F.L. right now is that it doesn’t seem to care much if its players hit women.

gjarvis@watchnewspapers.com

Twitter: @Gus_Jarvis

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