Roger Goodell Must Go


Jan 30, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during a press conference for Super Bowl XLIX at the Phoenix Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

There’s only one thing that’s clear from the Deflategate fiasco: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell must go. The amount of time and resources the league has spent on an inconsequential matter is baffling and embarrassing and is indicative of a complete lack of understanding of what constitutes priority in defending the integrity of the game. The NFL should be focused on so much more than this. Its fans and its 32 franchises deserve better than Roger Goodell and his team have to offer.

Let’s talk a little about the integrity of the game.

How about Chris Borland, the 24 year old player who decided this year that continuing to earn millions as an NFL player was not worth the health risk it posed to him and the effect it would have on his family? Important to the integrity of the game? Absolutely.

How about the personal conduct of so many of its players and players-to-be, like Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy, La’el Collins, and so many more? Important to the integrity of the game? Absolutely.

And how about the conduct of its own football operations staff, who instead of acting to prevent the Patriots from using deflated footballs decided instead to try to catch them in the act thus potentially giving them an unfair advantage, not in just any game, but in a championship game? There’s a reason people are referring to this as a sting operation. That’s what it was. Important to the integrity of the game? I think so.

While most people are focusing on the conclusions of the Wells report, which I’ve said before are simply not based in fact, one thing that is abundantly clear in the report is that the NFL front office completely mismanaged the issues brought to their attention via email by Colts general manager Ryan Grigson. Numerous front office personnel were made aware of the potential that the Patriots’ footballs were not prepared properly and you know what they did with that knowledge prior to the game? Nothing. Page forty-four of the Wells report, the section titled “Pre-Game Events” spells out exactly how much the NFL knew prior to the game and how little it did. It is a complete condemnation of management that no action was taken with such knowledge.

Roger Goodell. Dave Gardi. Mike Kensil. James Daniel. Dean Blandino. Alberto Riveron. And the lead official on that day, Walt Anderson. All of these folks – and likely more – knew of the Colts’ concerns prior to the game and did nothing about it. In perhaps the greatest sign of bias in the report, Wells attributes their negligence to a lack of “factual support”. “The Grigson email did not contain any factual support for the suspicions raised, and the NFL was unaware of any factual support prior to the game”, wrote Wells. Well, isn’t that a standard. Facts, you say?

If that’s the NFL’s standard for taking action to prevent infractions to the rules, shouldn’t it also be its standard in asserting such infractions took place? Apparently not. Because you know what facts do? They complicate things. They complicate the narrative the NFL has adopted that the Patriots are “probably” cheaters. They complicate the narrative that Tom Brady is “probably generally aware” that someone is “probably” cheating.

Here’s what management is supposed to do: lead. You lead by taking action when issues arise. You lead by holding yourself to the same standard that you hold your employees to. Goodell and his gang didn’t do that with Deflategate. They didn’t do it with so much more before it. Do we really trust them to do it next time? I don’t and neither should you.