Wednesday NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell presented a new personal conduct policy. There is a serious problem with the new rules, and that problem remains Roger Goodell.
The new rules include the NFL having its own investigators to make decisions regarding fines and suspensions. Goodell will appoint a special counsel who will execute punishment. The players called for an independent arbitrator to hear appeals, but dictator Goodell insisted on keeping that power for himself.
Complaints from the players were immediate. Their evaluation of the new policies are realistic, and should be addressed. They cite the way Goodell bungled both the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson incidents, and claim the new rules are merely an attempt to protect the league’s image. In addition, they are displeased that there is no mention of team owners and management, and what punishment they might receive for violations of the same personal conduct policy. Domestic violence is not exclusive to players. They made references to Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay who was arrested for driving under the influence and possession of a controlled substance. He received what is described as a ‘slap on the wrist.’
The player’s criticism of the new policies would be unnecessary if the owners had acted fairly and removed Goodell from his position of power. Neither the commissioner, nor Baltimore Ravens’ owner Steve Bisciotti have admitted their guilt in regards to the Ray Rice situation. The undeniable fact that both men knew the seriousness of the incident before Rice’s original two-game suspension and denied the facts, should have resulted in punishment for both.
After a full investigation, it was decided that Rice had revealed all the details of what happened in that elevator, long before the second surveillance tape had been exposed. Goodell has lost all respect from many players and fans, and for the owners decision to retain his services casts doubts about their ethics as well. The result is that he will continue in his position because he has increased their profits. Morality be damned, it’s all about the money.
In a just world, Bisciotti would have received the same punishment as former Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling. Bisciotti’s lies and deceptive practices were far worse than the words of Mr. Sterling. Bisciotti should be forced to sell the Ravens.
Women’s groups have commented on the new rules. They call them a ‘step in the right direction.’ However, they challenge the inaction of the owners and their decision not to fire Roger Goodell. They question his leadership and doubt his sincerity regarding the elimination of domestic violence throughout the NFL.
Part of the problem exists within the National Football League Players’ Association. The NFLPA has allowed Goodell to dictate punishment and suspensions for far too long. Long ago they should have demanded an independent panel to make such decisions after a review of the entire situation. The association should fight immediately and challenge the new policy of ‘paid leave’ while accusations are being investigated. Many players receive much of their pay based on performance.
The bottom line is that not enough will be done, nor will charges of abuse be handled justly until Goodell is removed from the NFL. His presence is a black mark on the NFL logo.
By James Turnage