In Rice case, what does “accountable” really mean?

AP

Commissioner Roger Goodell has said on multiple occasions that he’s accountable for the many problems with the Ray Rice investigation and ultimate suspension.  But what does it really mean to be accountable?

For players, coaches, team executives, and owners who break the rules, it means fines and suspensions.  For teams, it means fines and the potential loss of draft picks or salary cap space.

For folks in the league office, accountability looks to be simply a word.

To confirm that, look no farther that the deposition given by Goodell in the Super Bowl ticket fiasco lawsuit.  PFT has obtained a copy of the 317-page document, and an intriguing exchange between Goodell and lawyer Michael Avenatti begins at page 119.  It appears below.

Q.  Who has been held accountable, if anyone, with the NFL with regard to what happened with the temporary seats?

Attorney Thad Behrens:  Objection, vague.

Goodell:  What do you mean, accountable?

Q.  Have you ever used the word accountable?

Goodell:  Yes, sir.

Q.  All right.  What do you understand the word accountable to mean?

Goodell:  You’ve asked me in the beginning that you wanted me to make sure that I understand the question.  I’m trying to understand your question.

Q.  That’s not my question.  My question is what do you generally — what have you generally understood the word accountability to mean when you’ve used it.

Goodell:  Is that the first question that you asked or — I’m asking for a clarification on your question.

Q.  I’m going to strike the question and I’m going to ask you another question.

Goodell:  Okay.

Q.  All right.  What have you generally understood the word accountable to mean when you’ve used it?

Goodell:  That you are responsible, and that you take responsibility.

Q.  And that you make good on your failure, right?

Attorney Thad Behrens:   Objection.  It mischaracterizes his testimony.

Goodell:  I think I answered your question.

Q.  Have you held anyone with the NFL accountable for the failures relating to the temporary seats at Super Bowl 45?

Attorney Thad Behrens:  Objection, vague.  You can answer.

Goodell:  Again, I’ve been very clear.  We’re all accountable for this.  Our staff has worked hard to contact those fans to make the offer.  We continue to still make good on those offers, and we will do so.  So yes, we’re all accountable for that.

Q.  Have you caused anyone to be disciplined in connection with their — the failures relating to the temporary seat issues at Super Bowl 45?

Goodell:  To be disciplined?

Q.  Yeah.  You’re familiar — you’re familiar with the word disciplined, right?

Goodell:  Yes.

Q.  Okay.  I mean you hand out discipline on a consistent basis, in connection with being the leader of the NFL, in an effort to protect the shield, right?

Attorney Thad Behrens:  Objection.  You’re badgering the witness.

Goodell:  (Laughing).

Q.  No, I’m stating a fact.  I mean he — it’s well known that he does that.  Right, Mr. Goodell?

Attorney Thad Behrens:  Objection.  This is outside the scope.

Goodell:  I apply discipline —

Q.  Okay.

Goodell:  — in the context of violation of our policies.

Q.  All right.

Goodell:  — when a team violates policies, lawyer or other individuals involved with the NFL.

Q.  Have you applied any discipline whatsoever in connection with the failures surrounding the temporary seating issues at Super Bowl 45?

Goodell:  Discipline wouldn’t be the word I would use.  There are people that recognize our responsibility, and there was an impact for that, for all of us.

Q.  Have you caused anyone to lose their job over the failures in connection with the Super Bowl 45 temporary seats?

Goodell:  No, I have not.

The questioning then focused on whether any employee has suffered a consequence to his or her job because of the Super Bowl ticket fiasco.  Goodell explained that, generally, it can affect bonus payments and promotions.  Pressed for the name of any person affected by the situation, Goodell did not provide one.

Many have assumed that, in the Rice case, one or more key employees of the league office will be held accountable with the loss of their jobs.  Based on the Super Bowl ticket fiasco, however, that assumption could be erroneous.

After all, if anyone in the upper reaches of the NFL loses his job now, it could become very hard to explain why the axe of accountability didn’t fall one level higher.

67 responses to “In Rice case, what does “accountable” really mean?

  1. If Goodell doesn’t understand what accountability, maybe he can run an NFL news and rumor website and part time TV talking head after his commisioner job.

  2. The Ravens knew what was on the elevator video and did everything they could to bury the video and protect Rice.

    That changes their role to being accomplices in domestic abuse. There should be severe consequences for doing so.

  3. Jesus Christ…it’s football. The Super Bowl seating thing was an annoyance, nothing more. Learn from it and move on. Nobody should lose their jobs because some whiny rich people didn’t have a seat for a game. Apparently to some, “accountability” means you have to resign after the slightest mistake. I wonder how Terry Bradshaw feels about that idea?

  4. I remember when Ray Handley was the coach of the Giants, fans in the stands would chant “Ray Must Go…”, set to the tomahawk chop chant.

    Well, “Roger must go…” (set to that same tomahawk chop chant).

    It’s time for him to go. Condi to the rescue!

  5. Is anyone else tired of this story like me? Just wondering. To me, I see tons of young men who have not been brought up in a 2 parent family, with a mom and dad together. In addition, they listen to all that rap music that down grades women and I’m not surprised at all to see what we see. I used to work out listening to that music but I had to stop because the words were so negative about women.

  6. Mike,

    Although it’s impossible to ignore what has gone on off the field w/ Goodell, how about mentioning how he’s failed in his job as Commissioner by watering down the game of football. Between the amount of penalties being called & the unwatchable product that they’ve put on Thursday night–the games are no longer as enjoyable to watch.

    And what is next for Goodell? An 18 game season & more games in Europe. That’s laughable. What the owners fail to see is that Goodell’s continued money grab will not work over the long term. If the NFL doesn’t get back to letting players play football I don’t care how many games they play or how many sponsors they have people who enjoy the game of football will eventually lose interest in the NFL.

    I’m watching the Florida-Alabama game & I don’t see a penalty being called on every play. In fact I see a football game being played whose outcome is being decided by it’s players. It’s actually nice to watch real football. Go figure that? The game of football is so likeable that it doesn’t need constant & relentless tinkering.

  7. This story is basically dead,

    The vast majority of people simply want to watch football without having to think about any deeper social implications.

    Like it or not, Goodell has weathered the storm and will remain Commissioner.

  8. Personally I am NOT tired of this story. This story focuses on (as laid out by Florio) the double standard vis a’ vis discipline in the League, the Admin vs. the players. Moreover Florio is peeling back layers of PAST corruption and cover ups (this post here). So if the FUTURE health of Pro Football is important to anyone, I think this line of inquiry speaks to that. More so than let’s say, the issue of gay men in the League or celebrations in the end zone.

  9. Although it’s impossible to ignore what has gone on off the field w/ Goodell, how about mentioning how he’s failed in his job as Commissioner by watering down the game of football. Between the amount of penalties being called & the unwatchable product that they’ve put on Thursday night–the games are no longer as enjoyable to watch.

    And what is next for Goodell? An 18 game season & more games in Europe. That’s laughable. What the owners fail to see is that Goodell’s continued money grab will not work over the long term. If the NFL doesn’t get back to letting players play football I don’t care how many games they play or how many sponsors they have people who enjoy the game of football will eventually lose interest in the NFL.

    I’m watching the Florida-Alabama game & I don’t see a penalty being called on every play. In fact I see a football game being played whose outcome is being decided by it’s players. It’s actually nice to watch real football. Go figure that? The game of football is so likeable that it doesn’t need constant & relentless tinkering.
    ——

    Blame all the penalties and rule changes on the players. They are the ones suing claiming the NFL is putting them in danger. The rule changes are a necessary pre-emptive legal move that is designed to thward off any future lawsuits that claims: “you knew how dangerous the game was and you did nothing to make it safer”. With the rule changes, they can now claim they took player safety seriously.

    Your anger of the rule changes should be directed towards retired players… Not the commish.

  10. Condi to the rescue?

    She was only part of the most incompetent bunch of nincompoops this country has ever seen in the top tiers of government and a war criminal.

    If O. had the cojones, all of those turds would be in jail for war crimes.

    If Goodell had any respect for the general public, he’d resign.

    Truth to both matters.

  11. Great stuff, thanks for posting this article.

    I’ve been saying for a while now, many times it was deleted, that the commissioner and the league have hurt the “Shield” in their handing of this.

    I’ve said that the commissioner and the league fine, punish and suspend folks for hurting the “Shield”.

    Well, I’m sure that players and owners would consider the commissioner and the league’s poor handling of this, which caused a sponsor to drop them to be hurting the “Shield”.

    So, will the commissioner or some in the league be held accountable and punished for hurting the “Shield”?

    I think we all know the answer to this.

  12. I cant decide whether media or the NFL is more out of touch.

    This whole cluster is worse than when Harley introduced Elton John as the secret headliner of the 100th annual Harley Davidson Festival

  13. romosrevenge says:
    Sep 20, 2014 5:25 PM
    Personally I am NOT tired of this story. This story focuses on (as laid out by Florio) the double standard vis a’ vis discipline in the League, the Admin vs. the players. Moreover Florio is peeling back layers of PAST corruption and cover ups (this post here). So if the FUTURE health of Pro Football is important to anyone, I think this line of inquiry speaks to that. More so than let’s say, the issue of gay men in the League or celebrations in the end zone.

    ———————————————————————–

    Yes, but there SHOULD be a double standard. Nobody cares if Fred in ticket sales makes a clerical error or even beats somebody up. Nobody cares if any fan at home or sitting in the stadium do it. It’s only the players that matter because they’re the face of the league. They’re the ones that get celebrated and idolized. The hope is that kids in pee-wee football at least learn that, because the geniuses in college now sure aren’t. See: Jameis Winston. The fact that NFL and Goodell are taking any of the blame at all is crazy. Employers aren’t supposed to be the police. The POLICE are supposed to be the police. What the players did is criminal, so it should be sorted out by the criminal justice system.

  14. I’m NOT tired of this story either AND I applaud you all for having the courage to continue writing these articles. The ignoramuses complaining have no idea that a hypocrite commissioner with zero integrity affects the ON FIELD product. If we the fan can’t trust the on field product, the NFL becomes the WWF.

    Many of the old school owners (Mara, Rooney) made their fortunes as bookies. Go look it up. They would love nothing more than a league where they can control outcomes. A crooked commissioner is the first step in that happening.

    Wake up people!!!! You should be encouraging the media to expose this fraud if you care at all about the good of the game!

  15. the last portion is disturbing that the lawyer implied jobs should be lost for silly mistakes. There are foul ups on jobs constantly, but not everyone gets fired for them. Address it, fix it, move on.

  16. As deplorable a person Ray Rice is, I hope he sues the NFL for the extended suspension which cost him millions. He was essentially penalized twice for the same crime if you ignore the lies out of the NFL office. I would love to see the lies continue under deposition.

  17. Goodell is nothing but one rich weasel covering up for a bunch of much richer weasels. His job performance doesn’t justify his continued employment, but he will almost certainly continue as the NFL Commissioner.

    That’s why the definition of “accountability” is so confusing for him – in his case it really does mean nothing.

  18. So what punishment will satiate the masses? At this point I’d probably agree with it just so we could move on. For crying out loud I don’t know what’s worse the magnitude of the hypocrisy of everyone wanting someone’s head or job for being human or the media’s nonstop bloviating trying to make this mole hill into a mountain and shoving it down our throats until we care.

  19. We are talking about grown men who do not know how to act and we are trying to punish the men who run the organization instead of the men committing the crimes. How long until this becomes a racial issue since all the men being suspended with pay are African American?

  20. Everyone should have seen this guy is in over his head when he handed out penalties for salary cap violations in a year there was no salary cap.

  21. Q. Yeah. You’re familiar — you’re familiar with the word disciplined, right?

    Goodell: [looks down] Signs point to yes.

  22. Spygate. Why aren’t all of these professional reporters putting the dots together? Come on Florio. If goodell was stupid enough to destroy evidence then what makes you think he didn’t know about the tale

  23. Thad Behrens: Mr. Goodell, what are these pictures of?

    Mr. Goodell: My house and stuff.

    Thad Behrens: House and stuff. And what is this brown stuff on your window.

    Goodell: Dirt.

    Thad Behrens: Dirt. And what is this rusty, dusty, dirty looking thing that’s covering your window?

    Goodell: That’s a screen.

    Thad Behrens: A screen! It’s a screen. And what are these really big things that are right in the middle of your view of the Sac-o-Suds and your kitchen window, what do we call these big things?

    Goodell: Trees?

    Thad Behrens: Trees, that’s right, don’t be afraid just shout ’em right out when you know ’em. And what are these thousands of little things that are on trees?

    Goodell: Leaves.

    Thad Behrensi: And these big bushy things between the trees.

    Goodell: Bushes.

    Thad Behrens: Bushes. So, Mr. Goodell, you can positively identify the defendants, for a moment of 2 seconds, looking through this dirty window, this crud covered screen, all of these trees, with all of these leaves on them, and I don’t know how many bushes.

    Goodell: Looks like five.

    Thad Behrens: Uh, uh, uh, don’t forget, this one and this one.

    Goodell: Seven bushes!

    Thad Behrens: Seven bushes. So, what do you think? Isn’t possible you just saw two guys in a green convertable and not necessarily these two particular guys?

    Goodell: I suppose.

    Thad Behrens: I’m finished with this guy.

  24. I for one am not tired of this story. I care that a team owner and the commissioner of the richest and most powerful professional sports league in America tried to fool their fans. I care that the NFL Commissioner showed favoritism toward a particular team. I care that nobody is being held accountable. Lastly, I care that greed and financial gains are being valued more than human decency.

  25. It means the same thing as when Hillary Clinton says she is accountable for what happened in Benghazi…nothing.

  26. joenash72 says:
    Sep 20, 2014 8:57 PM

    Please make the Commissioner that replaces Goodell someone that’s not a lawyer.

    —————————

    Please make the Blogger that replaces Florio someone that’s not a lawyer.

  27. Sorry, have to ask again because NOBODY seems to want to answer this question.

    What exactly do you want to hold Goodell accountable for? What is it that you want from him besides firing him because you don’t like him.

    Goodell admitted he should have punished Rice more at the beginning and then he eventually did.

    Did the NFL cover up the video? Seems like it was the Ravens had more going on here than the NFL. Seems the media wants to focus on the NFL and not the players committing these crimes. Shouldn’t we be asking what is going on with the players?

  28. So if Goddell suspended Rice from day one for the season or for life … The story would have been “Roger must go … He over reacted”.
    Seriously this is insane …. there is so much media out there looking for a story to make a headline.

  29. Here’s a football story the media should focus on and investigate …. how much money was made on the Colts Eagles game with the 2 back to back blown calls.

  30. I don’t even care about this anymore. I expect the NFL to entertain me just like a movie or a Broadway play.

    And honestly, I don’t care if the leading man in that Broadway play beats on his chick as long as I get what I pay for. Let law enforcement sort that out. It’s not my place to judge.

    Why aren’t all employers held more accountable for the actions of their employees while NOT at work? And why don’t all employers act pre-emptively when their employees misbehave and have not gone through due process? Because it’s plain stupid to do so.

  31. Wish the media would go after politician’s like this but NBC has to stick to their liberal roots and attack the rich white guy. They should look at the culture that facilitates the beating of women. Anyhow this is getting old.

  32. If domestic violence is such a hot- button topic, then why is Tom Cable still allowed to coach for the Seahawks?

  33. Goodell should be fined 100 percent of his compensation for 2014. Like he used to suspend and fine Sean Payton for saying he should of known. Goodell should know alot of things too and he dont get fined. No im not a Saints fan either.

    One of Goodell’s famous lines is when players admit to things as justification for fine. Yo idiot you admitted you made tons of mistakes in this matter. You should be fined all of your compensation
    This clown needs to go.

  34. Great stuff Mike Florio. Reading this shows what an absolute joke and moron Roger Goodell is. He is being difficult on purpose. Refused on numerous occasion to say an issue isnt clear, when anyone with a brain knows its crystal clear.

    This guy is a clown and needs to be fired today!!!

    And for that idiot CEO from Pepsi that said Goodell is a man of character. Lmao. All you need to do is read this testimony and know hes a scumbag

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