Thumbnail screencap via CBS News on Youtube
Roger Goodell needs to be fired. It’s that simple. There’s such a litany of reasons why he should kick rocks that I'm not sure where to start. His alleged involvement in the cover-up of concussion-induced CTE, his draconian punishments for recreational (and sometimes state-legal) drug use, and his support of the racist Washington team name—the one journalists aren't even allowed to type—all spring to mind. But of course, most recently there's been his tragically incompetent mishandling of the NFL’s domestic-violence epidemic. Not to mention his ongoing disregard for the health and well-being of retired veteran players, the fucking lockout, or his Mr. Burns–esque war on referees.
Fuck Roger Goodell.
As a lifelong football fan (for the Green Bay Packers, so double-fuck Goodell for the Fail Mary), I'm finding it increasingly difficult to watch the sport I love. There’s been plenty of ink spilled on that subject. Dozens of stories, in print or onscreen, point out the moral quandaries one confronts when supporting a game that is mired in arch hypocrisy, victim blaming, and stubborn ignorance— all stemming from the commissioner’s office.
You might think it's just a game, but context matters: Every NFL player’s dream is to win a Super Bowl. Most won’t even make the playoffs. However, those who do receive post-season bonuses in the tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars. The athletes who suit up are often the best of the best the NFL has to offer, and they are handsomely rewarded for their abilities by the League. Given all this, a question arose in my head.
Just how many players who have received these bonuses have also been charged, arrested or cited in violence against women? How many Super Bowl winners have struck their wife or girlfriend with the same hand that now bears a Super Bowl ring—the ultimate achievement in America’s most popular sport? And how many did it under the ham-fisted rule of Roger Goodell?
Using USA Today’s NFL Player Arrest Database (a necessary thing that exists), I compiled the names of any player that fits that description. The results were more surprising than I expected. Thirty-nine men have made the playoffs in Goodell’s NFL who have also been arrested or summoned for a crime against a woman. Super Bowl winners include Ray Rice, Erik Walden, Will Smith, Michael Boley, James Harrison, Tony McDaniel, and Rocky Bernard. This list doesn’t even include Super Bowl winners like Terrell Suggs, who was merely accused of punching his fiancée in the neck in front of their fucking kids. You can look over the whole list I've compiled here.
Sixteen of the men are still in the league, while the 17th, James Harrison, retired a week ago. He went back to the Steelers to retire. The Steelers, of course, are Quarterbacked by the Bill Cosby of the NFL, owner of as many Super Bowl Rings as on-the-record sexual assault accusations, Ben Roethlisberger.
One of those men still in the league was the first case of domestic violence Goodell had to deal with, less than a week after becoming commissioner. That man is Miami Dolphin Randy Starks, whose fiancée actually lost some of her fingernails during the attack (By the way, whoever keeps up the USA Today database is doing a great job, but change your fucking verbiage, dude. Calling a fight between a woman and a 6’3'', 305-pound man a “scuffle” is incredibly tone-deaf).
The most recent addition to this list is, of course, 49er Ray McDonald. Over Labor Day weekend, he was arrested for beating his pregnant fiancée. The person most likely to be added to this list? Denver Safety TJ Ward, who was accused of throwing a glass at a female bartender. Barring another Peyton Manning neck injury, he will soon make his first playoff appearance.
Despite all this evidence, despite repeated calls for his resignation from Senators to perhaps the only respectable windbag at ESPN, Goodell, somehow, remains commissioner. He, a pathetic excuse for a leader, is the steward of a roughly $10-billion-a-year industry. His callous demeanor, T-1000 eyes, and backwards approach to anything involving emotion should make him ripe for scapegoating. It’s truly a mystery why, after so many fuckups, and now outraged pundits beginning to advocate for a boycott, a group of old white billionaires have yet to turn on him to save themselves and their fortunes.
Who can stomach a guy who is so lenient on violent acts against women? A man who, in his staunchest critique of this kind of violence, said:
You do not have to be convicted or even charged of a crime to be able to demonstrate that you've violated a personal conduct policy, and reflect poorly not only on themselves, but all of their teammates, every NFL player in the league, and everyone associated with the NFL.
But he seems to have no problem with the fact that it's an empty platitude, considering that—for one—Carolina Panther Greg Hardy was found guilty of assaulting his girlfriend this July, and yet, will suit up next Sunday against the Lions.
Three days before the Super Bowl involving Ben Roethlisberger, during the season he was suspended after being accused of sexual assault, noted NFL lackey Peter King quoted Goodell as saying he "doesn't feel any connection'' to Big Ben and that “not one, not a single player, went to his defense.” Goodell ended up reducing Roethlisberger’s six game suspension to only four.
Next month, the NFL trots out its dumb pink uniforms, “supporting” a breast cancer charity that is troubling at best. Ostensibly, this is to promote awareness of women’s health. Yet this becomes another in the long line of Roger Goodell’s hypocrisies. How many of the men wearing these pink uniforms have been protected by the commissioner’s office for themselves harming a woman?
Maybe next October, Goodell should propose that players wear black and blue uniforms, to raise awareness of the NFL’s backwards treatment of violence against women.
In the meantime, we’re stuck with Goodell and his ludicrous policies. Let’s face facts: A boycott of the NFL doesn't look likely, but if we, fans and media, continue to call for his resignation, while at least entertaining the idea of a boycott, we might actually achieve something. Roger Goodell works for the NFL owners, and they’ve proven they don’t care about people who work for them. However, if the uproar gets loud enough, they will be forced to protect the one thing they truly care about: their money.
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