On Friday, September 19, 2014, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell finally broke his week-long silence on his lack of awareness in domestic violence. And damaged the league's reputation even more.
Roger Goodell finally addressed his lack of visibility as the National Football League has spiraled out of control.
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“Unfortunately, over the past several weeks, we have all seen too much of the NFL doing wrong. That starts with me."
The commissioner of the league reworded and reiterated "I'm sorry" for failing the league, fans, and players. Of course, all the sorries in the world will not erase the free fall of bad decisions and actions by the league.
Promising a new conduct policy, the commisser tried to reassure the public that the league will take the problems more seriously. But reassurance is hard to come by when the problems keep rolling out. Ray Rice was the tip of the latest iceberg: Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings), Ray McDonald (San Francisco 49ers), Greg Hardy (Carolina Panthers), and Jonathon Dwyer (Arizona Cardinals) have all committed violent acts.
Goodell’s conduct changes include the fact all personal must now undergo sexual assault training in order to handle complaints/legal charges with a player.
“There will be changes to our Personal Conduct Policy. Nothing is off the table.” However, the commissioner implemented these changes after the failure of Rice’s initial suspension.
"We saw the original video. It was clear that violation had occurred. It was horrible." If the first video was horrible, how does the second tape rank?
In deciding the punishment of Ray Rice's two games, the NFL never consulted women or domestic violence experts, nor did the commissioner separate the married couple when interviewing Rice. “We have learned that we shouldn’t have them in the same room.” Apparently, some element that Law and Order knows to be important, the NFL does not.
Women journalist and reporters did not let the commissioner off the hook, either. CNN’s Rachel Nichols dug into the commissioner’s empty claims and dodge-and-weave strategy. She wanted to know if he would be willing to relinquish doling out punishment.
And when she questioned the reasoning for hiring an independent auditor of league policy and action, the commissioner became upset—claiming the reporter was challening the veracity and reputation of former FBI director Robert Mueller III. Seems that media should not question the position of the person in charge of doing the study on the league’s credibility.
Or something. Goodell wasn’t willing to explain how people of color, and more specifically, women of color, will work within the new communities. The point was brought up by reporters based on victim profiles and identities. He also claims there are women and people of color on staff with experience on topic and have been from the beginning; yet the league has no idea how to interview an abuser and abuse victim.
Somehow the importance of gender, power dynamics, and relationship dynamics of domestic violence seems to not include women in the league’s view. Is that commentary on personal beliefs or the owners’ beliefs? Leadership has failed in protecting people. The league failed at keeping a promise.
NFL VP of human resources Robert Gulliver once told espnW.com that “any incident of domestic violence is really one too many." Does that still hold up? Well, the past several months have proven that women and children are not valuable unless supplementing the player’s income by smiling and protecting the player’s image at cost to own image and safety.
Goodell also side-stepped questions on his lack of finding out information from sources outside of Rice, even when TMZ Sports pointed out that a single phone call obtained the full video for the tabloid site. Meanwhile the football league has a legal team with far more money and legal rights yet claims no knowledge of full disclosure.
The New Jersey court system recently said no electronic communication exists of the league asking for the original video. So what was really put into it? “We gather almost entirely through law enforcement.” Still claiming to ask for the tape between February and June.
Another strike again Goodell’s claims.
And the fact McDonald is playing for the 49ers, even with a charge of domestic violence against him, shows the lack of importance on safety for the NFL (administrative and owners). Goodell seemingly has little consequences to his lack of inaction.
"I believe I have the support of the owners. That has been made clear to me."
Let’s be clear: consistency is a problem for the NFL. Allowing the various teams to punish as they see fit while charges are pending shows the lack of sincerity in Goodell's words.
"We got new information from when we meet with him." In other words, when TMZ released the full tape, the "new information" allowed them "to interject." But the commissioner refuses to explain what happened on the full video since the suspension is in appeal by the Player's Association. "That information will come out at some time" allows him to remain quiet on his failings.
Katie Ray-Jones, CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, told CNN journalist Jake Tapper that Goodell had been contact, and the league offered a substantial donation over years to the organization.
Goodell: "We will get our house in order first."— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) September 19, 2014
"It is time for us to talk about the prevalence" echoes the week-long media discussion.
And she suggests the donation should only be a first step. There's a lot of people looking for financial support in the U.S. in many organizations and shelters. The league is in multiple cities with a reach of multimillions, so the lack of education on domestic violence does not hold up.
Lack of knowledge is no longer excusable when the NFL offers many resources to finding answers and really investigating. His most common refrain, other than “I’m sorry” was the NFL needed “to get its house in order.”
As if the lack of serious evaluation over the past several years should be erased since the league is now doing its part. Or promising to do the necessary commitments to “maintain the integrity of the league.” And Mueller was hired to find out the breakdown in finding necessary information after the AP released a source’s statement the league did have the tape.
Another crack in the commissioner’s promises.
So should Goodell resign? He didn’t consider the topic even valid, but social media disagrees. Trending topics of Roger Goodell, #NFLdomesticviolence and #GoodellMustGo all focused on the lack of true regret in the man’s voice during the press conference.
Every major TV network has broken into programming to carry Goodell's presser. THAT'S how big the NFL is in America.— Bonnie Bernstein (@BonnieBernstein) September 19, 2014
And Fran Tarkenton, a Hall of Famer, sides with social media. In CNN's coverage, the player admitted the NFL has a problem with transparency and corruption. And believes the 32 team owners "have [Goodell] by the neck."
So how do fans show their displeasure and push back against the lack of accountability within the organization? Write into the teams, stop attending games, and to demand more action out of the owners. Waiting until the Super Bowl is unacceptable since "committees never solve anything."
Jeffery Toobin, a CNN legal analyst, agrees that money speaks but then clouds the issue based on sponsorship moral authority.
Sponsors are speaking out against the league. Pepsi, Proctor and Gamble, Visa, Campbell's, Anheuser-Busch, and restaurant chain McDonald's have issued warnings and separation of brands to the NFL. And withdrawing that support is detrimental to the corporations in the short-term because televised games earn a lot of money for sponsors.
By acting as if the sponsors had not pulled out of deals, Goodell attempted to downplay the serious problems within the organization. “They’re not looking for words. They’re looking for action. And so are we.” But the players, those directly affected by the new policies, are not willing to give benefit of doubt just yet.
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Goodell and the NFL are facing a serious lack of credibility and accountability in policy maintenance. Holding himself “to the highest standards” and consistently failing to uphold them does him no favors. Goodell’s mealy-mouth promises and inability to clearly offer transparency doesn’t inspire confidence in the general public and media.