I don’t believe I have done enough ‘Roger Goodell bashing.’ I know I’m not alone. On Saturday he was present for the traditional ‘Super Bowl Handoff.’ As Goodell began his remarks he received both cheers and boos; the boos continued as the Commissioner began to speak. Ever the capitalist, Goodell remained on focus to protect the NFL and its image.
A silver Tiffany tray was presented to Jed York, president of the San Francisco 49ers who will host Super Bowl 50. Michael Bidwill, president of the Arizona Cardinals, handed York a football. Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara will be the site of the historic one-half century of Super Bowl championships. There was no controversy present in Goodell’s remarks. He talked about the weather, and the great job the Bidwill family and organization has done preparing for Super Bowl XLIX. There was no reference to the multiple mistakes and the inconsistencies by the League Office.
Prior to Saturday’s ceremonial event, Goodell was forced to face several questions. Like a good politician, he sidestepped most of them, although not always gracefully.
On Friday Goodell conducted his pre-Super Bowl news conference, and he was not prepared.
Rachel Nichols of CNN once again forced the Commissioner to stumble over his words. She rattled Goodell when she asked him how the League could justify appointing Robert Mueller and Ted Wells to investigate problems and questionable practices by the NFL when they are directly or indirectly employed by the League. Goodell reacted by saying that Ms. Nichols was assuming that the integrity of the men paid to perform the investigation was in question. He responded like a good politician and avoided directly answering her questions.
When Nichols asked the direct question about Mueller; if he was the proper choice to determine the veracity of the Commissioner regarding the Ray Rice incident, although the former FBI director had been instrumental in negotiations for the contract with DirecTV, Goodell re-directed the question. He said that it had been a tough year for him personally and that he had learned from his mistakes.
He continues to avoid talking about the Ray Rice incident, and how he originally followed decades of league policy by attempting to sweep another case of domestic violence under the rug. The problem is; he got caught. Evidence proves that he knew exactly what happened and failed to address it seriously. A two-game suspension was merely a slap on the wrist. For the Commissioner to deny that he knew the facts before the general public saw the second surveillance tape is a blatant and unforgivable lie. Goodell is not a stupid man; and for him to claim ignorance of the facts is an undeniable stain on his tenure. His denial was not dissimilar to the claim by New Orleans Head Coach Sean Payton regarding ‘Bountygate,’ which Goodell said was not acceptable.
A final question addressed by the Commissioner related to the refusal of Seattle Seahawks’ running back Marshawn Lynch to fully engage with the media. He defended the league’s policy, denying Lynch his personal freedom and human rights.
There is no doubt that Roger Goodell and Baltimore Ravens’ owner Steve Bisciotti consulted each other regarding the Ray Rice incident. Goodell works for the owners, not the players or the actual interests of the sport. Both men should follow the actions of the NBA and be banned for life.
One thing that I, and I’m certain the vast majority of fans are not aware of; security measures for Super Bowl XLVIII cost the taxpayers of New Jersey nearly $40 million. The NFL does not reimburse the host city for the enormous cost insuring the safety of fans and participants in the world’s biggest game.
NFL fans assume that host cities make millions of dollars when the Super Bowl is played in their domain. Hotels, restaurants, etc. profit enormously, but taxpayers do not. Glendale, Arizona, last hosted the Super Bowl in 2008 and lost an estimated $1.6 million.
By James Turnage