NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell broke his long silence on Friday afternoon in a press conference that opened with a lengthy statement promising accountability and transparency from the league in the future.
He offered very little of it in the present, however. Goodell consistently fell back on the talking points from his opening statement over the course of the 43 minute press conference that ended with several members of the media still waiting to ask questions.
In place of concrete answers to questions about why the NFL didn’t get the Ray Rice elevator video, why law enforcement in Atlantic City said they were never contacted by the NFL in an attempt to obtain the video and what ambiguities from Rice’s testimony led Goodell to suspend him indefinitely after finally seeing the video that showed exactly what the police report read, Goodell talked about forming new committees and former FBI head Robert Mueller’s investigation into the league’s handling of the matter.
Perhaps most telling was his unwillingness or inability to answer why it was so much more difficult for him to hand down the proper punishment in the Rice case than it has been in cases that didn’t deal with domestic violence. The man who opened the press conference by saying that he believes in accountability showed little of it in response by saying that the personal conduct policy, which Goodell oversees, was not sufficient to handle that particular case.
When Goodell wanted to be firm, he was. A question about possible conflict of interest for Mueller because his law firm WilmerHale has represented the client was met with Goodell saying that he hired Mueller because of Mueller’s credentials and not the firms. The rest was mushier, going back time and again to promises to fix the system with the help of other experts and the aforementioned committees.
That may lead some to wonder whether Goodell is an essential part of the process or if the man who wielded unilateral power as everything went haywire for the league stands in the way of the kind of changes that he said need to be made.