Goodell Must Give Up His Power


May 8, 2014; New York, NY, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on stage during the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is the most powerful commissioner in America, managing the most successful American sport. This isn’t breaking news, but he is doing a pretty bad job.

I’m not just talking about the Ray Rice issue either. In my opinion, this should be the last straw in a long line of poor and indiscriminate decisions involving team, coach, and player punishments that Roger Goodell has made all the way back to 2007.

I’m not trying to say that Roger Goodell should resign, as much as we would all love to see him do that. I believe that Goodell simply has too much power and too little accountability when it comes to league discipline.

That power should be delegated to others so that incidents can be completely investigated and fair punishment matching the evidence can be dispensed. Steelers safety Troy Polamalu put it perfectly,

Goodell’s personal conduct policy basically states that “any illegal or irresponsible conduct is detrimental to the image of the league and will be subject to discipline, regardless if the conduct itself results in the conviction of a crime.”

It’s good in theory, but when you become judge, jury, and executioner in discipline matters you not only turn the attention on to all of these off-the-field issues, but you put your credibility and authority on the line when you don’t carry out punishments in a uniform manner.

Ray Rice was suspended for two games in spite of the NFL not collecting all evidence regarding his case, which according to Goodell was still under investigation.

Steelers linebacker James Harrison was not punished for his involvement in a domestic violence incident.  Neither were  Chad Johnson, Daryl Washington, Dez Bryant, Greg Hardy, or Ray McDonald.

In fact, out of the 10 players that have actually been suspended during Goodell’s tenure for domestic violence related incidents, all have gotten two games or less. The lone case was Michael Pittman who received three games after ramming his wife’s car with his Hummer.

The only reason, Goodell went back on his “offense system” for domestic violence with Ray Rice was because of the public outcry over the second video. After all, if he believed in his policy would he not stand by his initial punishment if that system was in place to be fair?

Goodell can’t be trusted to make these kind of calls, because frankly, I’m not sure any one person should. Goodell has made fans uncomfortable with watching football.

He has destroyed the trust of NFL fans that situations can be handled in a fair and complete manner. He has destroyed his authority as a judge, jury, and/or executioner in league discipline manners.

The NFL is becoming more about what surrounds football than football itself, in Polamalu’s words, and that is directly Goodell’s fault. League discipline should be handled by a committee that can make a decision without an ego getting in the way. The commissioner doesn’t have to give up his office, but he must give up his power when it comes to league discipline.