As an uproar grows over a video showing star player Ray Rice’s ferocious blow on his now-wife, calls for the firing of the NFL’s leader are getting louder.
An increasing number of critics think National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell, the man in charge of disciplining the star player, should be next.
“The NFL has lost its way. It doesn’t have a Ray Rice problem; it has a violence against women problem,” said Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women. “The NFL sets the example for college, high school, middle school and even elementary school football programs. And the example it is setting right now is simply unacceptable. New leadership must come in with a specific charge to transform the culture of violence against women that pervades the NFL.”
Goodell told CBS News on Tuesday that he was sickened by what he saw on a newly released video that showed Rice knocking out his now-wife with a ferocious punch.
Goodell’s bumbling on this was mystifying. He’s been micromanaging the league and obsessed with optics and image so it’s difficult to figure out how he was caught so off guard by this. For a man who has been trying to remove so much of the violence from an inherently violent game (much to the chagrin of many devoted fans) to not grasp the import of illegal real world violence seems problematic. The whole, “We hadn’t seen the newest video yet…” excuse is nonsense. The first video showed Rice dragging Janay Palmer out of the elevator after he knocked her out. Does anyone really need to see further video evidence to know that the knocking out part was bad? Do we really need pictures at all to know that a man knocking a woman out is bad? The league and the Ravens management still sound pretty tone deaf.
Still, the league did institute a new, much harsher policy to deal with domestic violence once Goodell realized that his initial response was weak. He also admitted he’d screwed up, which you don’t get from big ego higher-ups a lot.
As a hardcore fan, I have a number of football-specific reasons I don’t like Roger Goodell and I do think he has been mostly awful in his handling of the Rice situation. Would it be better for someone new to come in and deal with this or might there be more progress if a chastened, contrite Goodell were still in charge?