Former NFL head of officiating Mike Pereira has leveled a serious allegation of workplace misconduct against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Pereira writes in his forthcoming book that Goodell shoved him during a heated argument about the infamous 2001 “Bottlegate” game, when referee Terry McAulay stopped the game with 43 seconds left while Cleveland fans threw bottles on the field.
“Goodell persisted, but I refused to give in. What happened next was anything but good. The conversation escalated, and when he was down in front of my office, with others present, he was so frustrated and, I’m sure, getting so much heat from Cleveland that he gave me a hard shove into my door to try and continue the argument about McAulay in my office. Quite frankly, it startled me, and I think it startled him a little because the discussion ended shortly after that,” Pereira writes, in an excerpt published by Deadspin.
Pereira was proud of himself for defending his referee in the face of Goodell’s inappropriate conduct.
“You have to support your ‘players,’ including sticking to your guns when you get shoved by your boss—who, by the way, wasn’t yet commissioner then. He was the executive vice president and chief operating officer,” Pereira writes.
PFT asked the league office for comment on Pereira’s allegation and did not receive a response.
If Pereira’s account is accurate, it’s troubling that Goodell would treat a subordinate in such a way — and that he’d be rewarded with a promotion to commissioner five years later. Goodell needs to explain his side of the story, and the NFL should explain whether the incident was investigated and whether Goodell was disciplined — just as Goodell would demand discipline for any other league employee who acted inappropriately.