The beleaguered commissioner of the NFL is doing everything he can to plug the leaks in the mighty ship that is the league. Or at least, he doing everything that his focus group and PR handlers are telling him to do to get the media off of his back. He held a press conference. Ok, he didn’t actually say anything of substance, or offer up any kind of concrete plan, but he stood out there for 15 minutes, that has to count for something, right?
He hired some women. Ok, he hired 3 women and gave another who already worked for the league a new title. Is it just me, or is this like a company being accused of being racist going out and hiring a minority just to prove they aren’t? Seems a bit hollow and desperate. And as they say, desperation is the cologne of the damned. Goodell’s latest act was to talk to University of Texas Head Coach Mack Strong about his core values idea for his football program (Core values? That’s a great idea coach – can we use that? In fact, can we just Xerox your copy of them and use them ourselves?) The commish is one step away from asking people in line at a Starbucks for ideas on how to fix his once unbreakable product.
All in all though it wasn’t a bad weekend for the NFL – the games were what they always are: exciting and unpredictable (for the most part – sorry Oakland and Jacksonville, we know you will lose whenever possible). Ok, there was that pesky incident following the Jets loss to Detroit when New York quarterback Geno Smith paused in his exit from the field to yell “F you” at an abrasive fan. Not exactly the kind of PR the NFL needs right now. But hey, that’s just some coarse language, nothing a little fine and some soap in the mouth can’t fix. It’s not domestic violence, or child abuse.
And just when Goodell thought he’d begin a new week with a fresh start, the details emerge of Arizona running back Jonathan Dwyer’s domestic violence incident. Investigators allege that Dwyer head-butted his wife in the midst of their argument, breaking her nose. The next day, he allegedly punched his wife, and apparently in his best impersonation of Random Task from the Austin Powers movie, he threw his shoe at his 17 month old son, who thankfully wasn’t injured (Cue Mike Meyers: “Who throws a shoe? Honestly, you fight like a woman!”)
So as much as Goodell wants to put all of this behind him, none of it is going away. Ray Rice is appealing his suspension, Greg Hardy is appealing his conviction, and Adrian Peterson’s trial hasn’t even begun yet. All of this will be dragged to the forefront over the next several months. The Potemkin village that Goodell is trying to build with his phony press conferences, window dressing hires, and brainstorming sessions with college coaches, won’t hold up to the light of day. He needs to make some substantive changes, and it begins with letting some people go. That shows the public that there is accountability, and that there are repercussions for allowing the League to operate the way it has in regards to domestic violence. He’s just lucky (for now) that the owners don’t see fit to remove him.
You want names? Sure, here’s 2 to start with: Jeff Pash, the NFL’s head legal counsel, and Jeffrey Miller, the NFL’s head of security. The buck ultimately has to stop at the commissioner’s desk, but his head of security should have handled all of these incidents better, and his head legal counsel should have given him better advice. The public wants someone’s head on a pike, and the league needs to give it to them. If it isn’t going to be Goodell, then it needs to be some people fairly high up the food chain to show people that the NFL really means business when it comes to taking care of these problems. That won’t solve everything, but it will be a good start. So if you see the Commish standing in line waiting for his caramel macchiato (with whip) do us all a favor and pass this along to him.