Roger Goodell once again played us for a fool. He did what he and the NFL has always done and that's hide behind their fabulous television ratings to get away with everything. Their players test positive for PEDs and they quietly get a four week suspension and the ratings soar. In baseball, a positive test calls for the game to be revolutionized overnight. Ray Lewis, at the very least was around the scene where two people were murdered; not only was he forgiven, but was feted by the league, the Ravens and now works for ESPN as an analyst.
For years, the networks gave the NFL the ultimate pass and the league with all its arrogance knew that they could get away with it. CBS lost the rights to NFC games in the 1990s and the network suffered; NBC lost the rights to AFC games after the 1998 Super Bowl and they too, suffered. Now, all the networks pay billions of dollars for the right to air the games and for years, they have been so afraid to criticize the administration because they knew that the league could bully them, threaten to take the games away and those delicious 15 and 20 ratings that they enjoy.
On Friday (September 19), Goodell finally emerged from his bunker and tap danced his way around the domestic abuse issues that are currently plaguing the league. He admitted he handled the Ray Rice situation wrongly by only giving him a two suspension, but he failed to reveal or address the other details that are emerging. Rice came clean; he told what he did and he felt shame. The NFL was more than fine with a two game suspension. The Ravens GM, and their owner were also fine. Their coach John Harbaugh wasn't. He wanted Rice cut immediately, because he, the GM, the owner and Goodell saw the video---the complete video---and only Harbaugh was appalled enough to want to rid himself of Rice. The owner and the GM were fine sweeping it under the rug. A two game suspension was a good thing, in fact from a playing standpoint, it would mean Rice would be fresher as the season wore on.
Goodell has captained a ship that basically prints money and for that he gets favorable reviews from his employers, the 30 NFL owners. But, Goodell is a fraud. This is a guy who is unrelenting, swift and tough with discipline, yet won't discipline himself for this blatant transgression. He suspends Saints coach Sean Payton for "Bountygate," a silly thing that every NFL team engages in, yet he participates in a major cover-up and refuses to step down, or at the very least suspend himself.
This is league that tries to come up with tough concussion prevention standards, yet refuses to demand better tackling techniques. This is a league that sees Wes Welker suffer three concussions in 10 months, yet refuses to make him retire, or at the very least, counsel him to consider retirement. They will let Welker play because they don't care about his health. In 20 years, Welker will try to sue the league by saying that they league let him play and continue to do damage to his body. The league will deny this, but we'll know better.
The NFLPA, never to be confused with the MLBPA, has never been known to be that tough of a union. Most of the time, the NFL has a field day beating them up in labor negotiations. NFL players have short careers, get most of their money up front and are broke five years after their playing days end. They want to play and moreover, they need to play.
The players are tired of Goodell. They see a double standard. He can punish players at will, yet he himself is not held accountable. He can force a player, a coach and an owner to answer his questions, yet he provides no answers himself. He can opine on everything, yet when asked if "Redskins," is an offensive nickname, skips rope like third grade girls at recess. He won't tackle the tough issues. He won't get Daniel Snyder alone to explain to him that the name "Redskins," is offensive. He won't convince Snyder that by changing the name would make he and his Washington football team more money that they're currently making.
The players should demand action. This is a man who talks the talk, but won't walk the walk. The players could go to their leader DeMaurice Smith and demand that Goodell step down. They could threaten to boycott games until this happens. They could encourage sponsors to pull away. This is the only thing that will make the owners do something. The only thing that scares the NFL is losing money. The Minnesota Vikings thought a one game suspension of Adrian Peterson would quell the fuss about him beating his son. They tried to bring him back. Arrogance suggests that the sponsors---dying to be attached to this hot commodity---would be too scared to pull away, but Radisson was the brave soldier. They suspended their sponsorship of the Vikes and before you knew it, so too, did other companies and a day later, the Vikes reinstated the suspension of their running back.
Roger Goodell doesn't care about the players. Concussions are a weekly occurrence and Goodell's plan to curb it? An 18 game regular season so they can make more money even though it subjects the players to greater risk of injury.
The owners are more aloof than Goodell. They're all successful, they come to the NFL as billionaire businessman, yet they cry poverty and threaten to move the team unless a new stadium is built. They always get their way because the NFL is so hot, a region knows that they have to sell their soul so they can be one of 30 in this elusive club.
Goodell won't step down and the owners aren't going to force him to either. It's up to the players. They will get paid, so they can team with the sponsors and demand action. They could threaten to sit out, they are the ones that could instigate change. I'm not sure they're tough enough to do this. I'm not sure if they know how much power they really have, because they do. They make the league. People watch to see the players play the game. If they go away for one week, hundreds of millions of dollars is gone.
It's tough for Radisson to pull their sponsorship, but if I'm going away, I'm checking their website first because they were brave enough to take a stand. Now, can they players take such a stand. We know Goodell won't.
The players have the cards. Will they play or fold?