Earlier this week, six attorneys general put the NFL on notice that the league faces potential investigation and prosecution over complaints regarding workplace misconduct, both in the league office and among its teams. On Thursday night, one of the six explained what it will take for these prosecutors to take action.
“If we keep getting complaints we will pursue that,” Minnesota attorney general Keith Ellison said on NewsNation’s Rush Hour. “The fact is with this information coming to the press’s attention and getting out there to the public, if we begin getting more calls from women, from female employees, saying, ‘Look there’s a problem,’ then that’s the kind of thing that’s going to prompt our attention.”
Ellison hopes it won’t come to that, that the threat of action will prompt change.
“Absolutely I have confidence that it will,” Ellison said. “There are people within the organization, within the upper ranks of the NFL, who know this is the right thing to do. This is what law is for. When people don’t want to do the right thing voluntarily, then folks like attorneys general have to step in and look into it. We’re hoping they take action before we have to.”
It won’t be easy, but it’s important.
“Well, the league has a lot of work to do,” Ellison said. “The fact is it’s America’s most popular sport, most profitable sport. It has to be a sport where there’s fairness and openness to everyone. Whether you’re a black coach or you are a woman. Whoever you may be. America’s sport has to be a sport that reflects the principle of liberty and justice for all.”
Making the potential efforts of public investigators and prosecutors even more important as to the NFL is the league’s obsession with forcing all claims made by current or former employees into private arbitration before a rigged, kangaroo court over which the Commissioner or his designee presides. The NFL rarely has to defend itself in a truly public forum, before a truly neutral judge or judge and with a truly fair opportunity for external scrutiny of its behavior.
Why is the NFL so afraid of having outsiders determine whether it’s behaving properly or improperly? Why does the NFL want to keep these cases from the public eye? If the league were confident that it is always doing the right thing, it would have no qualms about having its decisions, words, and actions openly studied and publicly vindicated.
The litigation brought by Brian Flores, Steve Wilks, and Ray Horton becomes the most recent example of this mindset. The league and the teams undoubtedly will seek the comfort of Court Kangaroo because it knows that it has a problem, that it wants to hide the evidence of that problem from public view, and that it needs to tip the scales of justice in its favor in order to beat back a potentially significant verdict.