Right now, former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice is in court-ordered counseling. If you don’t know why, check out this video from TMZ, which shows Rice knocking out the woman who soon thereafter became his wife with one swift, brutal punch.
The public was outraged that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell originally suspended Rice for only two games for that ugly bit of domestic violence. Washington Post columnist Mike Wise said Goodell needs sensitivity training. And The Star-Ledger in New Jersey, CNN, Fortune and other major news outlets have heightened calls for Goodell to resign.
ESPN’s Keith Olbermann went on an epic rant. “Mr. Goodell is an enabler of men who beat women,” he said Monday on “Olbermann.” “His position within the National Football League is no longer tenable.”
Olbermann, who has previously been critical of Goodell, called his limp handling of Rice’s domestic violence problem a matter of “tone deafness.”
And maybe that’s being too kind. Goodell is tone-deaf, but maybe his affliction is much more serious, much more troubling.
After all, he has the power to suspend players and team owners and/or fine them. Without the release of that TMZ video showing Rice coldcocking his wife in an elevator, and the Ravens organization releasing him, Goodell would not have reopened the case against him and suspended Rice indefinitely.
Columnist Sally Jenkins wrote about this in her column:
“The Ravens terminated Rice’s contract on Monday and Goodell, ever in pursuit of a stainless suit-coat, reopened the case and suspended Rice indefinitely under his revised policy on domestic assault, given this graphic “new” evidence. But really, what did Goodell and the Ravens think it would look like when a professional football player knocks out a woman with a punch to the head?”
“That Goodell is an unduly vain commissioner, and a self-serving one with his eye on some further prize, has always been obvious,” Jenkins wrote. “That he obfuscates and evades on tough issues unless they are convenient for him, that his convictions are highly selective and so is his enforcement, has never been more apparent.”
And why is that?
Recently, former Washington Redskins quarterback (who says that the team should change its name) Sage Rosenfels wrote this after the Rice incident:
“$44 Million. That was Roger Goodell’s salary plus bonuses in 2013. Not bad for a union rep. That’s right. Union rep,” Ex-Washington Redskins' Sage Rosenfels wrote for FootballbyFootball.com. “He is labeled the commissioner and his job is to grow the NFL’s brand and have the fans, owners, and players believe he always does what’s best for the league.”
Courtesy Joe Tate
Joe Tate in action
But many of us have known for a long time that Goodell is tone-deaf and indifferent to the feelings of Native Americans, witness his support of Daniel Snyder in the Redskins controversy. Despite nudging by Native American groups such as the National Congress of American Indians and the Navajo Tribal Council, numerous sports columnists, 50 Senators, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Offices, and even the President of the United States, Goodell is not budging on the derogatory slur. When Dan Snyder said that he would “NEVER — you can use caps” change his team’s name, Goodell backed him, saying that it was ultimately Snyder’s decision. But when it comes down to it, what’s best for the league is in Goodell’s hands.
“I didn’t get it right,” Goodell wrote in a letter to NFL owners about his original decision to suspend Rice. “Simply put, we have to do better. And we will.”
Let’s hope the same is true for the R-word.