The NFL doesn’t have a domestic violence problem. It has a commissioner problem.
Take note of the irony: Roger Goodell’s big initiative when he took over for Paul Tagliabue, was to be the new sheriff in town on player behavior and to clean up the league. Now, the clattering failure of that high and mighty project has a decent chance of making him the first major sports commissioner to be FIRED in my lifetime.
Goodell’s original sin came in the form of his absurdly over-the-top scolding and suspension of Ben Roethlisberger – all because of a blacked out sorority girl wearing a DTF (Down to F***) button at a bar, and her fuzzy recollection of her very bad night.
Not only were no charges ever brought, but a 6 game suspension had absolutely no grounding in previous cases, basic fairness or with any eye to future precedent. That case is haunting Goodell and the NFL to this day.
Because of it, the public (or, more accurately the electronic media) now have a mob mentality for the NFL to “DO SOMETHING!” on all of these alleged crimes, right away, many months before any legal proceedings begin.
This is insane.
But because Goodell is so spineless – afraid to even show up to open the Niners’ new stadium – he can’t stand up and have a simple press conference setting forth the league’s stance on such matters.
A real commissioner, one who isn’t swimming in water too fast and too deep for his below-average intellect, would say flatly:
“Look. We have a policy. We will follow that policy. But every player facing the possibility of losing 6 paychecks or more, has the right to have all the evidence adjudicated in a court of law, not in the media. After that process has played out, we will have all the information to make an appropriate decision on discipline. We’re the NFL people. We’re not going anywhere. Every player’s day of reckoning for bad conduct, will come. And we’ll be ready.”
“Now… any questions..?”
Goodell’s other big mistake, was apologizing for the Ray Rice 2-game suspension. You made it. Now own it.
His new get tough policy has done nothing other than officially cast the NFL as a “woman abusing league” even though the numbers simply don’t show that. When a reactive, scared commissioner makes moves like this, it doesn’t so much play out as a heroic move to right a societal wrong, it instead serves as a “no contest plea.”
“Yes. We are the league that beats women. But we are working hard to do less of it.”
Any half decent CEO would take a moment to play some good offense in the public eye, and remind everyone this is a league of 1,600+ players (2,000 if you count practice squadders) who not only do not get arrested, but also do mountains of charitable work in their communities, serve meals at soup kitchens, build playgrounds in bad neighborhoods, and visit sick kids in hospitals.
Tell every keyboard wielding high priest of morality: “If you choose to judge this league of 2,000 players and coaches on four guys, three of whom haven’t yet had their day in court…. well then… that’s on you.”
Only the 49ers right now seem to understand how to play the game, now that Roger and the Shield have made it a game of “all-in” poker. Jim Harbaugh said the team wouldn’t “flinch” and suspend Ray McDonald now, before he’s even been charged. Smart man. Why should he? Just for the bag of beans equivalent of a few grudgingly complimentary columns by those same hypocrite pundits?
Meanwhile, the Panthers and Vikings are only making it worse on themselves. They might be fooled into thinking this magical “Commissioner’s List” move is some “safe haven” from all of the “bad publicity” right now, but it’s nothing more than an expensive way to kick the can down the road.
Imagine if Greg Hardy was instead “Mark Steffenhagen” and he worked for ABC Plumbing, not the Panthers. Let’s say ol’ Mark was pretty important. Like, “Accounts Receivable.” So if Mark Steffenhagen gets into a fight with his coked up girlfriend, who ends up breaking her toenail and calling police to file charges, what do you do?
If the plumbers guild that oversees ABC Plumbing has a strict 6-weeks-off-without-pay punishment for that crime, only an idiot boss at ABC would tell Steffenhagen to go home for 8-plus weeks WITH FULL PAY, while the invoices pile up, and the company loses money. Especially if the trial goes south for ol’ Steffenhagen, and he’s found guilty, then ABC Plumbing is forced to send him home again NEXT YEAR (without pay) while the invoices again pile up in his absence.
What if ol’ Steffenhagen is really, really, GOOD at getting those invoices paid – AND HE IS FOUND NOT GUILTY – and he has the chance to go work for XYZ Plumbing next year because he’s pissed about how you treated him during this ordeal?
If so, you’ve now fucked up a crucial part of your revenue season in business, and chased away a valuable employee. Good work, fellas.
As for Peterson, you can be horrified at his awful parenting – I was horrified to find out his staggering number of illegitimate kids a year ago, the beating is just an extra layer of disgust – but the legal impact of it is going to almost certainly be nothing more than counseling and probation. You want to essentially PRE-suspend a guy for possibly a YEAR over that? Why? Because your dipshit Governor told you to? Because Radisson ripped up your rewards points card?
Who knows what exciting new case will have Goodell and the league’s owners tying themselves in knots over next? But you can bet it’s coming. And judging by the current incoherence of #thisleague… it promises to be once again, low comedy.