Commentary by James Turnage
When former FBI Director Robert Mueller was appointed by the League Office, (actually by Roger Goodell), to investigate the timeline and events in the Ray and Janay Rice incident, it smelled of a cover-up for the Commissioner. It was. The NFL continues to deny the facts and refuses to tell the absolute truth.
Mueller was a highly respected FBI Director, but now he’s simply another lawyer with a successful law firm. It is not a coincidence that WilmerHale had three lawyers who are now employed by the NFL. To believe that Mueller did not begin his investigation with an attitude biased towards Roger Goodell’s exoneration would be foolhardy.
The primary issued of contention was unfortunately centered on the second tape from that elevator in Atlantic City which displayed the actual punch which rendered Janay unconscious. Mueller claimed to have proven that no one in the league office received or watched the tape before the initial two game suspension was levied. The issue of when the second tape was made available to the league office doesn’t change the facts, and it doesn’t eliminate statements made in court by Ray Rice.
Ray Rice disputed original statements made by Roger Goodell that he did not have knowledge of the entire events in the elevator. Rice claims that he told the complete story to the Commissioner during their first meeting. What did Goodell believe was the reason Janay lay unconscious halfway out of the elevator? It doesn’t require an IQ of genius level to discern the cause. In other words, Goodell just plain lied to the NFL and its fans.
It is also not a coincidence that Goodell has a personal relationship with several owners of the 32 NFL teams including Baltimore Ravens’ owner Steve Bisciotti. Bisciotti also lied about his knowledge of the events in Atlantic City involving one of his running backs.
Sadly all 32 owners have voted to support Goodell throughout the scandal. It’s understandable; Goodell has made them all more wealthy men since he took the Commissioner’s job. As for the players, they are displeased with his ambiguous punishments and dictatorial attitude.
If all the previous information is discarded, one undeniable fact remains; the League did not consider domestic violence an important issue until the Rice incident was revealed to the public. A curse word by a player, or unapproved attire worn by a head coach on the sidelines receives a two game suspension if Goodell decides to hand it down. The Commissioner’s priorities are askew. He was simply following common past practices by the team owners, general managers, and coaches.
If the wife or girlfriend of an NFL player made a complaint of domestic violence, the first step was to hide it from the fans and general public. There was never punishment for the player, or protection, compensation, or understanding for the victim.
Make no mistake about it, NFL owners and the league office have little concern for the actual game or the players who make them millions of dollars. The NFL is a billion dollar corporation. Corporations are all about image; Goodell has forever tarnished the image of Professional Football. He should be banned for life.
By James Turnage