The fall meeting between team owners and league officials produced no surprises. It was announced that Goodell has the full support of NFL owners.
Commissioner Roger Goodell has the full support of those who pay his salary, while his moral character continues to be questioned by fans and women’s groups.
“You don’t can somebody for making one bad decision,” Houston Texans owner Bob McNair told a USA Today reporter.
Let’s begin with some honesty here; NFL owners will never let Goodell go. He has increased their wealth by millions if not billions of dollars. The owners don’t care about football, the integrity of the league, or the welfare of players and their families; they care about profit.
Although Goodell’s star continues to shine brightly with owners, it has been permanently tarnished for fans. Too much emphasis has been placed on the ‘second’ tape which revealed the punch which knocked out Ray Rice’s fiancée, Janay Palmer. After viewing the first tape of Ms. Palmers limp body being dragged from the elevator simple logic tells the story of what happened inside.
Commissioner Goodell and Baltimore Ravens’ owner Steve Bisciotti both lied to the media about the incident. They were entirely aware of the cause of Ms. Palmer becoming unconscious, and hid the truth for weeks, hoping to escape the situation and render a minimum punishment to Rice.
As for the owners, they simply wish the situation would go away.
Words have no impact on reality. Goodell continues to claim that his office will do everything possible to combat domestic violence, but his actions do not back-up what he says.
In the past he stressed concussions and other serious injuries stating that excessive violence in the NFL must be stopped. Then he decided to allow Thursday night games, giving the players only three-and-one-half days of rest before playing again. This decision is bad for the players and bad for football; but it has increased NFL revenues by billions of dollars.
Violence on the field is professional football; it could not exist without a certain level of physical aggression. However, key players receive minimal punishment for on or off the field actions, while others experience the severity of Goodell’s wrath.
Money is the fuel which propels the NFL. Changes will not occur as long as sponsors continue to pour billions of dollars into the league’s coffers. Football coaches at all levels teach players to ‘hit them where it hurts.’ For the NFL that means in their wallets.
Professional sports has created an army of young men who have become overpaid heroes. The culture of professional football is to make the best players feel that they are exceptional. And they are; but that attitude does not stay on the field; it is transported into their homes and private lives.
Including salaries, bonuses and pensions Goodell was paid in excess of 44 million dollars in 2013. Owners praise his tenure calling him a good and honest man who has generally made excellent decisions for the NFL. Much of his income is in the form of bonuses. When asked if his bonuses could be reduced because of the domestic violence issue, Atlanta Falcons’ owner Arthur Bland sounded like a politician: “You look at his performance in total. There are a variety of factors.”
Players continue to believe that Goodell is too powerful and frequently displays a biased attitude when handing out punishment. In reality all that matters is that Goodell continues to have the full support of the owners.
Integrity is a word that is often used while its meaning remains hollow. The greatest coach in all of sports had this to say about athletes and owners alike: “Sports do not build character. They reveal it.” John Wooden said it all.
Commentary by James Turnage
San Francisco Gate