If he stays, how will Goodell effectively govern?

Setting aside for now whether the NFL saw the tape (maybe it did) or even needed to see the tape (it probably didn’t) and whether an independent investigation will cause ownership to hire a new captain for their 300-foot, gold-plated yacht, a legitimate question has emerged regarding Commissioner Roger Goodell’s ability to govern pro football in the wake of the Ray Rice scandal.

During the 2011 lockout, Goodell routinely pointed out that he’s the Commissioner of the entire league.  As a practical matter, he ultimately runs the entire sport.  Will he be able to run the sport with credibility moving forward, especially when the time comes to impose discipline on players, coaches, owners, and/or teams?

The 2012 witch hunt against the Saints, which levied harsh punishments for tough off-field talk with no clear nexus to illegal on-field conduct as a potential knee-jerk reaction to the concussion crisis, undermined Goodell’s credibility, especially in New Orleans.  But that case was more complex and nuanced, lacking the hot-button clarity that has made the Rice scandal a major mainstream news story.

This case will stick permanently to Goodell, making it difficult for him to credibly levy punishment for any and all infractions for which players, coaches, owners, and/or teams are disciplined in the future.

Not long after Goodell got the job in 2006, complaints began to emerge from agents who suddenly weren’t able to negotiate outcomes to substance-abuse and PED cases as easily as they could under former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.  A new sheriff was in town, and he eventually became labeled by TIME as “The Enforcer.”

So how can “The Enforcer” still be “The Enforcer” after so horribly failing to properly enforce on an issue of such significance?  It could be that, in addition to a revamped and reconstituted NFL Security department, Goodell will have to sacrifice the role of “Enforcer,” in the same way that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones should sacrifice the role of General Manager.

The better model could be for the Commissioner (whoever it may be) to be the good cop, with a top-level lieutenant serving as the bad cop.  And if/when the bad cop becomes anything other than squeaky clean, a new bad cop will be hired.

In this case, Goodell will have to find a way to effectively fulfill both roles despite the stain of an investigation that was grossly incompetent at best, clumsily covered up at worst.  It may not be possible, assuming that the owners ultimately decide that change isn’t needed.

29 responses to “If he stays, how will Goodell effectively govern?

  1. Same way he always does, by catering to political appearances instead of doing what’s right.

    And also by ruining the game with absurd rules to promote scoring and making officials determine the outcome of games.

  2. The question is moot. It doesn’t matter how many posts you get for or against, they really have nothing to do with the Commissioner’s performance of his job. Are you saying he would try to suspend a player and…what? Said player would refuse to be suspended? Said player would lead a revolt? Call for a referendum? Get the rest of the league to strike?

  3. Can Steve Bisciotti effectively still lead his team? How can Dick Cass effectively do his job when he says the Ravens did all they could? Can Ozzie Newsome effectively continue doing his job when he says Ray Rice didn’t lie to him? Can John Harbaugh still rally the troops, because he says Ray is a good guy?

    Ray Rice brought all of this on, and the talk with him is that he’ll eventually play again. I highly doubt Goodell will be able to get his job back.

  4. Here’s what anti goodell people dont get. If Goodell resigns/gets fired, it will be because he initially wasnt harsh enough with Rice for his crime. The new guy will have to be more severe from the start to not have the same fate. Does anyone think he will be paid less? So what was old will be new again. Its one of those moments of careful what you ask for.

  5. He should be gone! The problem is he was caught! The problem is it was one of the most horrific things ever to be caught on tape that an nfl player did. Yes others have been arrested for dv but not with the tape. If Rodger did the right thing and gave him a real suspension the story would have went away! Tmz would not have been digging if the nation thought the punishment was fair.

    The real question is how can they keep him?

    My question is if his excuse works do the Saints get 2 picks in the second round next year and does he stroke Sean a 5 million dollar check?

  6. I don’t like Goodell, but if he’s canned, the owners will just bring in a carbon copy of the guy. Nothing will really change. Sure, our blood lust will be satisfied, but the league will carry on as it has.

  7. Goodell will only have credibility issues if the 32 owners that pay his salary do a financial cost/benefit analysis and conclude retaining Goodell as NFL Commissioner is costing them $.

  8. The power of the fan is with your $$$. All we need is organized pressure put on NFL sponsors. That’s it. It’s up to all of us.

  9. Replacement Refs, Bountygate, 15ng threshold with no HGH testing, and now THIS??? He has forever lost my confidence.

  10. “Here’s what anti goodell people dont get. If Goodell resigns/gets fired, it will be because he initially wasnt harsh enough with Rice for his crime.”

    Actually, no. What you’re missing is that the true outrage is more about the lying and the cover-up. Things have always been ambiguous until now, but now there’s proof that this cowardly scumbag is who many have been saying he was.

    If he had been a man and owned up to his mistake, he wouldn’t have nearly as much pressure – but he refused.

    Smaller segments of NFL fandom have been complaining about Goodell because they saw who he was when he railroaded their team or player on a whim.

    Now that this is an issue that extends beyond the boundaries of a team, the focus is now on him from across the nation, instead of simply alienating yet another of 32 fanbases.

  11. Between this, Spygate (I hate that term), the Michael Vick deals (both of them), the Stallworth deal, and a few others I just don’t like him…..

    Between destroying video, not having access to video, he’s exactly what the owners want, but the game just doesn’t need.

    The NFL will be the first league to search fans both coming into the stadium and then leaving….

    They want to make sure fans have no weapons going in and no money going out…..

  12. This isn’t about Ray Rice anymore. This is about a lying incompetent that tried to whitewash a case of domestic violence and sweep it under the rug. This is about an egomaniacal liar and his protect the shield farce fining and suspending players, coaches and now owners left and right. We’re just supposed to trust the pathological liar is telling the truth about “evidence,” he never shows anyone and/or destroys. He’s ended players careers, robbed one team of an entire season and now he’s playing the “blame the victim,” card to a woman one of his players beat down. He’s lied to players, the public and even Congress about the potentially fatal effects from multiple concussions. He twiddles his thumbs as questionable officiating costs teams games and playoff shots and is complement in the current system in which certain rules are ignored so thoroughly that during the each off-season the committee that makes these rules has to publicly state that the next season, referees will actually enforce two or three rules.

    You don’t like the direction the NFL’s going? Isn’t that a universal fan complaint? Then it’s time to hold responsible the guy who’s supposed to be responsible for ALL of it. What, do we wait until the captain gets liquored up and smashes into an iceberg? No. It’s time to clean out this filthy house and demand a commissioner like Roselle or Tags…someone with some integrity.

  13. It’s pretty sad to see how badly certain people want to see Goodell’s head on a plate…it’s all about politics, has absolutely nothing to do with his job performance!

    If you’re NOT a liberal, you’re NOT allowed to make the big bucks!!!

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