Yesterday, I wrote some strong words about Roger Goodell in the wake of the second Ray Rice video being released to the general public. I avoided over-writing so as to avoid writing something I may regret later, or something that would be out of line. However, having had a day to think about it, I want to discuss my opinion of things as they have changed in the past 24 hours.
These conflicting stories over what the NFL knew, and when they knew it, were meaningless to me until the Atlantic County state attorney said that it would have been illegal for the county to release the tape to the NFL, given that it was evidence to be used in a grand jury hearing.
Now, the NFL still gets a black eye for being tone-deaf, not discussing why they hadn’t seen the video sooner (seriously, if they had said it was because of legalities, most legal analysts would have confirmed it, and much of the flak they received wouldn’t have happened), and for giving a wimpy suspension in the first place.
They should have treated it like a PR-issue in the beginning, and that would have prevented all the issues since. This does not excuse Goodell, nor should it. He should have to explain himself in front of the media and to the fans, and acknowledge his many failures. The Wall Street Journal says that the Teflon may have come off of the NFL, and if it has, it is Roger Goodell’s fault, if only because he established himself as the law and order commissioner, and didn’t deal with it in a proper, dignified, and decent manner.
One more word on the Baltimore Ravens: they sent out John Harbaugh to explain their actions, and he in turn did his best Bill Belichick impression (meaning he gave next to nothing). I understand that Steve Biscotti and Ozzie Newsome do not do weekly or even monthly press conferences, but they should have been out there, especially since Harbaugh has to manage the locker room full of players in shock from the day’s events.
Ultimately, I am disappointed that the people who should have spoken to the public about this matter have not, which leaves us with nothing but anger and speculation. They need to talk to us, and soon, or else the story will eat them alive, and they won’t survive (or at least their careers won’t).