Pash says Rice ruling doesn’t question Commissioner’s “honesty or integrity”

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After former U.S. Judge Barbara S. Jones overturned the indefinite suspension imposed on former Ravens running back Ray Rice, NFL general counsel Jeff Pash sent a memo to all team presidents and chief executives regarding the decision.

The full text of the memo can be seen here.

The following paragraph likely will attract the most attention:  “​No part of Judge Jones’s decision questions the Commissioner’s honesty or integrity, nor his good faith consideration of the issue when he imposed the indefinite suspension on Mr. Rice. Nor is there any suggestion that the Commissioner had seen the video from inside the elevator before it became public, or knew of the contents of the video.”

As to the first sentence, it’s true that Judge Jones did not question the “honesty or integrity” of Commissioner Roger Goodell.  She also did not question the “honesty or integrity” of any other witnesses.  However, it’s clear that Judge Jones rejected the testimony of Goodell and two other league office executives, Adolpho Birch and Kevin Manara.  They all claimed that Rice had explained in June that he merely “slapped” Janay Palmer Rice, and that after being slapped she fell and “knocked herself out.”  Judge Jones determined that Rice never said that.

Regardless of whether Judge Jones questioned in her own mind the “honesty or integrity” of the witnesses supporting the NFL’s position that Rice had provided the league a “starkly different sequence of events” than the elevator video demonstrates, Judge Jones found Goodell, Birch, and Manara to be not credible.  Otherwise, she would have accepted their explanation as truthful and accurate, and she would have agreed with the conclusion that Rice provided a “starkly different sequence of events.”

Most judges aren’t in the business of directly questioning the “honesty or integrity” of witnesses.  Instead, they drop hints and offer clues.  In this case, a fairly strong clue could be lurking in plain sight at page 7 of her 17-page ruling.

Wrote Judge Jones:  “As soon as he arrived at the office [on the day the elevator video was published], the Commissioner assembled all those who worked on the issue to a meeting, at which they looked back at the notes of the June 16 meeting, and ‘made sure all of us had the same recollection.'”

In 2012, Goodell suspended Saints coach Sean Payton for a full year in part because Goodell concluded that Payton “encourage[d] the false denials [of a bounty program] by instructing assistants to ‘make sure our ducks are in a row.'”  Getting “ducks in a row” is the same thing as making sure witnesses “had the same recollection.”  When the witnesses emerged from that meeting with the exact same recollection and when a former federal judge later rejected that shared recollection as not credible, it’s possible that the judge was indirectly making the same point Goodell made in reference to Payton.

As to the second sentence from the Pash memo, it’s accurate that Judge Jones did not suggest that “the Commissioner had seen the video from inside the elevator before it became public.”  However, Judge Jones’ ruling easily can be interpreted as a determination that the league office (and thus the Commissioner) “knew the contents of the video” without seeing it or needing to see it.  Rice told them what happened.  The video showed what happened.  Rice’s explanation was consistent with the contents of the video, which means that anyone who heard Rice’s explanation “knew the contents of the video.”

Pash’s memo also overlooks perhaps the most important conclusion reached by Judge Jones, as it relates to the NFL’s handling of the Rice case.  She determined that Rice had the video, and that the NFL never bothered to ask Rice for it.  While that finding says nothing about anyone’s honesty or integrity, its speaks to a degree of negligence that borders on recklessness.  The team presidents and chief executives could find that to be as troubling as a determination that questioned the honesty and integrity of one or more league employees.

55 responses to “Pash says Rice ruling doesn’t question Commissioner’s “honesty or integrity”

  1. The NFL is a business, not a court of law. The owners play hardball, always have and always will. They, and Goodell, realize the mistake with Rice was trying to cut him a break. Won’t happen again, leniency doesn’t pay; the NFLPA would rather bite the hand that feeds it.

    Goodell just got the endorsement of the owners. And that’s all that matters.

  2. Pash has just run headlong into the Streisand Effect. The harder you try to cover something up on the internet, to more publicized it becomes.

  3. “She determined that Rice had the video, and that the NFL never bothered to ask Rice for it. While that finding says nothing about anyone’s honesty or integrity, its speaks to a degree of negligence that borders on recklessness.”

    Once again, you have it wrong. While I agree that Goodell blew it by punishing Rice for only 2 games, I do not look to Goodell to uphold the laws of our country. I don’t care if he had the video or could have had the video. It is not his responsibility to mete out criminal justice. His responsibility is to the League, and not to society. The NJ laws, prosecution, and/or courts failed. Not Roger Goodell.

  4. That’s the thing- the judge determined what she determined. In other words it is her opinion. Which seems to fall in line with every football fans opinion.

  5. It doesn’t question his honesty and integrity, the judges verdict totally smashes them.
    Roger has been exposed for what he is – a liar who will manipulate anything to get what he wants.

  6. Some will do anything to make judgements fit their media created narrative. It’s amazing how many conclusions can be jumped to when one tries really hard. At the end of the day, there is not one iota of evidence aside from gross speculation that Goodell saw the tape or did anything wrong. Keep trying to create controversies.

  7. The Commissioner got it wrong in the first place and should have sanctioned Rice much harder or deferred until he had all the facts. He then got it wrong, again, by handing down a second penalty for the same violation, against due process rules……….he likely knew he would be overturned, but he did so anyway to help the NFL with the public’s image of the League regarding the domestic violence .

    Given the position he was in, he did what he needed to do……….He won’t lose any sleep regarding this as he can point to other’s when Rice gets back into the league. The owners will likely view what the Commissioner did as a good job of getting the league out of the sticky wicket they found themselves in and may even give the Commissioner a bonus.

    All that said; I can’t wait to see the uproar when a team signs Rice……Again; deflection from the Commissioner…..

  8. Goddell hasn’t been credible for years. The owners are making bookoo cash. It’s time for an involuntary response to BS, “That was the fatal flaw in……….u know who’s trip. He crashed around America selling ‘consciousness expansion’ without ever giving a thought to the grim meat-hook realities that were lying in wait for all the people who took him too seriously.”

  9. Goodell: You lack credibility. You apply penalties and fines on an inconsistent reactive basis. Your handling of Rice and Pedersen has shown you’re in over your head, and focused on too much on public perception rather than setting standards and principles, and sticking by them. Time to go.

  10. Mr. Florio, you are reaching again and pandering to the mob of Goodell haters. Hit and struck are fairly vague words. They both include slapped and punched. I guarantee you Ray Rice did not say he “punched” Janay because that offers a far worse visual image. The video showed he punched her but he purposely avoided that word. He probably said he hit her and Goodell and most of the general public envisioned what they thought that meant. Early reporting mentioned her hitting her head on the railing. The video replaced imagination with reality and Goodell and the vast majority of fans and reporters could no longer assume a lesser variety of “hit” or “struck”. The judge’s ruling does not question anyone’s integrity but you representation surely does. Goodell should have given a stiffer initial punishment but he didn’t. That was likely due to the personal meaning of a vague word combined with a a plea from the victim herself. The video only changed perception and Goodell should have never changed the punishment to appease the public, sponsors or sports writers. The judge was right in removing the indefinite suspension but I believe your conjecture as to why is wrong.

  11. After the bounty-gate fiasco, Ray Rice, and the asinine suspension of Adrian Peterson (Ummm, how does he get more games than Aldon Smith??) it is clear that the responsibility of punishing players should no longer be in the commissioners hands.

    If the owners had any self-awareness, they would remove Goodell from a position to punish players and appoint a staff to handle all decisions. I personally should be a committee of 8-12 with half the people chosen by the NFLPA and the other half chosen by the NFL. This committee could create clear rules and guidelines, rather than let Goodell do…umm whatever he does to come up with a time of suspension.

    Goodell should focus on his product on the field and making his owners money. Punishing teams and players has so far proven to much more harm to his reputation and the reputation of the NFL.

    BTW it’s almost laughable to keep hearing “We don’t know what happened on the elevator”. Besides the fact he’s probably lying about not seeing the tape, WTF did you think happened to see Ray Rice drag his knocked GF out of an elevator? She sneezed right into his fist?

    Again…Goodell shouldn’t be in position to punish players. He sucks at it

  12. What’s there to question? We knew he was a liar with no integrity before the judge ruled. BTW, she also said RG overstepped his bounds, and his ruling was arbitrary.

  13. I heart this judge. You know the owners have to be having their doubts after Goodell has now had his head handed to him twice now, first by Tagliabue, and now this. If there are any particular owners who have it in for the Commish (say, a few owners who have had entire seasons ruined by Goodell’s idiotic rulings—cough! Tom Benson!—cough Ziggy Wilf—cough!) now might be a good time to make some phone calls…

  14. I read the judge’s decision and if you haven’t, you should. Goodell and those other two clowns, change a few of RR’s words just enough to make you believe it might be true. One detail left out of the article was that RR “demonstrated” how hit punched his wife… Case closed!!! Goodell and his crew are lliarsliars and they all should be fired… Imagine the culture of corruption in that office…

  15. What honesty or integrity????? For someone who makes approximately 1M per month, he sure has screwed up almost everything he touches. He probably would screw up his own regisnation.
    Good ridance to this IDIOT!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. Mike, this is your best posting yet on this issue. Goodell was making sure his guys had “their ducks in a row” and he was trying to make sure that their “recollections” were the same, because he knew the truth was something that could not come out. Ray Rice did so many wrong things in connection with beating his fiance, but he told Goodell all about it during their meeting, Goodell lied about this fact afterward in order to save face. For this he should be fired.

    Please, NFL owners, see the light and fire Goodell.

  17. I’m sure the Rice ruling doesn’t question Goodell’s honor or integrity. It’s just the fans and the players that do that.

  18. This was all about the League attempting to save face.
    Rice screwed up. Big time.
    He admitted as much.

    Now it’s about damage control and, helping a team’s ownership get out from under big money Contracts on aging players, like those attached to Ray and AP.

    Commissioners Exempt List?
    Rates right up there with Double Secret Probation.

  19. Goodell is a liar and nothing Pash says will ever change that. No wonder he wants to be the one who hears all appeals. His rulings when put under the scrutiny of a neutral arbitrator usually crumbles. At best its just arrogance at worse it’s a deliberate violation of the CBA and willful lying. You saw it with bountygate and you see it here. Most damning of all you saw it with the case were two NFL teams were penalized for going over the cap in an uncapped year. Why that’s most damning to me is because not just the Commissioner was in on breaking the CBA and law but a majority of owners were in on it also. A strong commissioner needs to be able to tell his bosses when they’re in the wrong and so far this commissioner has been a yes man. What’s worse he’s been a yes man given considerable power but yet has low integrity.

  20. Boy, Goodell is quite the little dictator, huh? Totally overreacts to “spygate”, which the jets were guilty of first, but Belichick didn’t rat anybody out whereas Eric Mangina went running to the commish to tattle. Then he totally overreacts to “bountygate”, which has been going on in the league forever by every team in some way, shape, or form. And now the Peterson and Rice incidences. What Peterson and Rice did disgusts me, but you can’t really punish a guy twice for the same crime. I don’t know if the ginger boy was bullied in high school or what, but he seems obsessed with “making examples of teams” or “hitting players with severe punishments”, anything to show that HE’S the man. So now who’s going to make an example of him? That judge basically said, in so many words, that Goodell is AT BEST a schemer and a shady operator and at WORST a bald faced liar. So who’s going to punish Goodell for tarnishing the all important NFL “shield”?

  21. WOW they are all liars and they seem as though they think we’re all stupid enough to believe them.

    How sad the NFL offices are. Will they ever be cleaned up? Goodell has trained all of them to lie.

  22. I have never spoken a derogatory word against the commissioner because I don’t care who is the talking head for the owners. But if you think he was honest and handled this with integrity I have some swamp land in Florida and I can give you a great deal.

  23. No one circles the wagons like the NFL.

    Of coarse, the ruling in favor of Ray Rice is meaningless to Goodell and his supporters..even though it’s clear that Goodell testimony was rejected by a “neutral arbiter”.

    If anything, this ruling clearly illustrates why the player’s feel the need for a neutral arbiter in cases such as this…they do question Roger Goodell’s “honesty and integrity”..and for good reason.

  24. Memo to Jeff Pash – It absolutely calls into question everything Goodell did or said. Your memo is all about damage control and making sure the owners don’t toss him out.

  25. I’d say it was fairly obvious Rice was gonna win. You can’t suspend someone indefinitely right after a new 6 game policy comes out.

  26. Why would you make a point to come out with a statement clarifying whether or not Goodell ever saw the video and when?
    This wasn’t about who saw it first, nor when they saw it…
    That statement is your smoking gun.
    Good example: It’s kind of like the kid in school who did a bad thing, and when the entire class is questioned, he’s the first to yell “I didn’t do it!”.

    As the old folks used to say: “The guilty dog barks loudest.”
    Or in this case: “A dishonest man will be the first to tell you how honest he is.”

  27. Why isn’t Goodell in the NFL’s “No More” anti domestic violence ad campaign?? “no more looking the other way”, “no more, I’ll say something next time”, that’s EXACTLY what Goodell and the NFL did!!

  28. The fact that the judge discarded the league’s testimony especially that of Goidell says the decisions questions Goodell’s “honesty and integrity” in every way. She essentially said he’s a lying scumbag, which is a very polite description of the lowlife he actually is.

  29. Saints fans should be boycotting the NFL until this incompetent liar is gone. He took a legitimate shot at a super bowl right away from you all!! That missed season has essentially wrecked your team going forward. If he lied on this dopey case what makes you think he didn’t lie right through bounty gate which carried bigger dollars and ramifications??? I hope Payton, Williams and everyone affected sues the hell out of goodell!

    Wake up owners!!!! The NFL totally lacks credibility!!! You’re no different than the WWF now!! That’s what your boy has created!!

  30. The ONLY reason not to record a meeting like that is that you do not want to record it so that you can lie about it later.

    Seriously, $40MIL+/year for this crony capitalist clown? There are guys that manage Subways that are more intelligent and professional.

  31. Of course he has no credibility. He’s a shill for a mega-business. It’s all about money and the ability to make more of it.

    That said, Rice has no business representing the league. Get him out of here.

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