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NFL’s Goodell drops the ball

For the first time in a long time, the NFL shield has been stained by reports of multiple domestic violence cases, and while Commissioner Roger Goodell seems to be now listening to the public’s outcry for change, somehow it feels too late.

When the first report surfaced of the Rice incident, Commissioner Goodell suspended Rice for only two NFL games, something that did not sit well with the public; a suspension did not seem harsh enough for
such a crime.

When you consider the strict stance the NFL has taken under Roger Goodell on cleaning up the NFL, especially with substance abuse, it seems ridiculous how little attention this important matter got.

Robert Mathis an all pro linebacker for the Indianapolis Colts got suspended twice the amount that Ray Rice did after he took a performance enhancing drug to become more fertile to father another child with his wife. It seems ridiculous that beating your fiancé is not as important as keeping an athlete off a
fertility treatment.

The NFL faced obvious scrutiny after the second video was released in September, and the NFL almost seemed obligated to suspend Ray Rice indefinitely. The problem is it seems the only reason the NFL did suspend Ray Rice is because it had it’s back against the wall with the fans— no one wants to watch an abuser on TV that would cost the NFL a lot of money.

The allegations of Rice assaulting his fiancé surfaced first surfaced back in February, yet it was not until September that Rice got suspended indefinitely. What if the second video never saw the light of day? Would fans continue to buy his jersey, chant his name and root for him?

The NFL really messed up on that one and looked transparent when they suspended him the second time, why would you punish someone twice for the same crime if not for pressure by the fans and media?

Rice is not alone in this domestic violence situation. The NFL has suspended Greg Hardy as he awaits trial for assault on his then-girlfriend and for threatening to kill her.  Adrian Peterson has been released from his contract with Nike and was suspended by the Vikings after reports surfaced of him beating his 4-year-old son with a wooden switch.

Goodell has created new policies for such delicate situations with domestic violence, including suspension from games and, more importantly, a lifetime ban from the NFL for repeat offenders. But it feels too late for this? Why does it take an unconscious fiancé, an assaulted girlfriend, and a beaten child for the NFL to take action?

It seems logical to that an industry is worth so much money, the owners and proprietors would have everything in place to preserve its pristine image and keep such barbaric incidents like this from happening.

According to USA Today, the American sports industry is worth upwards of $422 billion, with the NFL bringing in a total $10 billion.  If an industry split between only 32 teams is worth more than $9 billion, how can it have such a severe “oops” moment and expect its fans to be ok with it?

The contracts for Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice and Greg Hardy are worth a total of $134 million, and Peterson and Hardy are still getting paid throughout their suspension. The problem with this situation seems to be the money these players are getting.

Players are being paid millions of dollars to play a game where the sole objective is to beat someone else down to score. The amount of money these players get is bound to cause entitlement issues and encourage some players to feel they can live outside the law. My question is, why is the NFL still paying these men to be role models for young boys and, more importantly why is the NFL audience still watching at home?

If the NFL wants to clean up its tarnished image, the only thing it can do is the one thing it is not doing, fire Goodell and punish him as if he were a player. If an NFL player screws up and drives under the influence, they are to face suspensions and fines, the same should go for Goodell.

When Goodell dropped the ball with the two-game suspension, he got a second chance to fix his mistake, but he didn’t. Where is the suspension for a man who in 2012 made $44.2 million dollars off the NFL?

Goodell held a press conference on Friday to speak about changes that are coming to the league. In that press conference he tiptoed his way around reporters and never gave straight answers to their questions. It’s clear Goodell is the main problem in the NFL. 

Goodell should be the example he wants players to follow and he should lead the way into the new phase of the NFL, where such instances like domestic abuse aren’t ignored. The NFL starts and ends with the commissioner, and if Goodell really wants to clear the air then he should consider leaving with dignity and pride, and leave the NFL in a better place then it is now.

Juan Carlos Navarrete can be reached at [email protected].

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NFL’s Goodell drops the ball