If you consider that the NFL, as a business, has no time for failure, what to make of Roger Goodell?
Today, a Federal judge reinstated Tom Brady because the due process he was supposed to get from Goodell turned out to be a laughable excuse for jacking off in public. The man in charge of the NFL is a serial incompetent.
Let’s take a moment to reflect on the recent failures of Goodell’s tenure as commissioner:
He suspended Ray Rice just two games after Rice knocked his fianceé out in an elevator, then suspended Rice indefinitely after video tape of the incident turned the original, paltry suspension into a PR nightmare for the league. A judge later overturned that second suspension because Rice was essentially being punished twice for the same crime, and because the NFL had no real evidence that Rice had lied during the league’s investigation into the incident.
He hit the New Orleans Saints with sweeping and severe penalties after determining that the team had instituted a bounty program. Those suspensions were later overturned by ex-commissioner Paul Tagliabue on the grounds that Goodell had overstepped his bounds and reached his decision based on faulty evidence.
He eagerly exploited the Adrian Peterson child abuse case as a way to restore his authority and brand as a stern, tough-minded disciplinarian. That suspension was later overturned by a federal judge because Goodell had retroactively and unfairly applied the league’s new domestic violence policy to Peterson’s case.
And now this. This particular defeat feels more meaningful than the previous ones, though, in part because of how truly benign the original “crime” was. Those other suspensions being vacated were big victories for the NFLPA, but Goodell’s flanks were still protected by the fact that he was facing off with a child abuser, a wife-beater, and a football team that purposely tried to hurt people. No matter how slapdash and wrongheaded Goodell’s ersatz judicial processes were revealed to be, he was always able to position himself as a good guy, just trying to get tough on bad people and do the right thing. He was able to point to his failures as evidence that all he needed to Get Things Right in the future was more power.
How much longer with the ownership of the NFL tolerate this kind of thing? Goodell no longer has a friend in Robert Kraft. When you lose friends like that, you're done. Why not dump him before the season opener?
They'd never allow it, but do you know who'd be a great NFL commissioner? Anybody but Goodell, that's who.
If I had to pick a name, I would say Condoleeza Rice. The league needs an image overhaul, and it needs to have a new public face. The sooner, the better. Barring that, Mitt Romney needs a job. If Romneyshambles can run an Olympics, he can run the NFL. He's great with rich people.
And, by the way, Brady was guilty as hell. His due process was violated, but the fact that he's the face of the franchise and he was grabassing with the clowns in charge of keeping the balls inflated should have made this an open and shut case. Jim McNally was Rosencrantz and John Jastremski was Guildenstern and I'm not sure who Brady was because he just doesn't sound moody enough to pull off Hamlet. Brady's culpability was wiped out as a factual matter because Roger Goodell couldn't use due process to prove a ham sandwich is made with bread and ham. I think Brady should have been given the chance to be a gentleman of the sport. He should have been given the chance to defend himself and he should have been asked to apologize to the Indianapolis Colts. I didn't agree with the four game suspension but I sure as hell think someone who plays sports for a living should have the maturity to apologize when caught cheating.