The NFL doesn’t have a domestic violence problem. It has a commissioner problem.
Take note of the irony: Roger Goodell’s big initiative when he took over for Paul Tagliabue, was to be the new sheriff in town on player behavior and to clean up the league. Now, the clattering failure of that high and mighty project has a decent chance of making him the first major sports commissioner to be FIRED in my lifetime.
Goodell’s original sin came in the form of his absurdly over-the-top scolding and suspension of Ben Roethlisberger – all because of a blacked out sorority girl wearing a DTF (Down to F***) button at a bar, and her fuzzy recollection of her very bad night.
Not only were no charges ever brought, but a 6 game suspension had absolutely no grounding in previous cases, basic fairness or with any eye to future precedent. That case is haunting Goodell and the NFL to this day.
Because of it, the public (or, more accurately the electronic media) now have a mob mentality for the NFL to “DO SOMETHING!” on all of these alleged crimes, right away, many months before any legal proceedings begin.
This is insane.
But because Goodell is so spineless – afraid to even show up to open the Niners’ new stadium - he can’t stand up and have a simple press conference setting forth the league’s stance on such matters.
A real commissioner, one who isn’t swimming in water too fast and too deep for his below-average intellect, would say flatly:
“Look. We have a policy. We will follow that policy. But every player facing the possibility of losing 6 paychecks or more, has the right to have all the evidence adjudicated in a court of law, not in the media. After that process has played out, we will have all the information to make an appropriate decision on discipline. We’re the NFL people. We’re not going anywhere. Every player’s day of reckoning for bad conduct, will come. And we’ll be ready.”
“Now… any questions..?”
Goodell’s other big mistake, was apologizing for the Ray Rice 2-game suspension. You made it. Now own it.
His new get tough policy has done nothing other than officially cast the NFL as a “woman abusing league” even though the numbers simply don’t show that. When a reactive, scared commissioner makes moves like this, it doesn’t so much play out as a heroic move to right a societal wrong, it instead serves as a “no contest plea.”
“Yes. We are the league that beats women. But we are working hard to do less of it.”
Any half decent CEO would take a moment to play some good offense in the public eye, and remind everyone this is a league of 1,600+ players (2,000 if you count practice squadders) who not only do not get arrested, but also do mountains of charitable work in their communities, serve meals at soup kitchens, build playgrounds in bad neighborhoods, and visit sick kids in hospitals.
Tell every keyboard wielding high priest of morality: “If you choose to judge this league of 2,000 players and coaches on four guys, three of whom haven’t yet had their day in court…. well then… that’s on you.”
Only the 49ers right now seem to understand how to play the game, now that Roger and the Shield have made it a game of “all-in” poker. Jim Harbaugh said the team wouldn’t “flinch” and suspend Ray McDonald now, before he’s even been charged. Smart man. Why should he? Just for the bag of beans equivalent of a few grudgingly complimentary columns by those same hypocrite pundits?
Meanwhile, the Panthers and Vikings are only making it worse on themselves. They might be fooled into thinking this magical “Commissioner’s List” move is some “safe haven” from all of the “bad publicity” right now, but it’s nothing more than an expensive way to kick the can down the road.
Imagine if Greg Hardy was instead “Mark Steffenhagen” and he worked for ABC Plumbing, not the Panthers. Let’s say ol’ Mark was pretty important. Like, “Accounts Receivable.” So if Mark Steffenhagen gets into a fight with his coked up girlfriend, who ends up breaking her toenail and calling police to file charges, what do you do?
If the plumbers guild that oversees ABC Plumbing has a strict 6-weeks-off-without-pay punishment for that crime, only an idiot boss at ABC would tell Steffenhagen to go home for 8-plus weeks WITH FULL PAY, while the invoices pile up, and the company loses money. Especially if the trial goes south for ol’ Steffenhagen, and he’s found guilty, then ABC Plumbing is forced to send him home again NEXT YEAR (without pay) while the invoices again pile up in his absence.
What if ol’ Steffenhagen is really, really, GOOD at getting those invoices paid – AND HE IS FOUND NOT GUILTY – and he has the chance to go work for XYZ Plumbing next year because he’s pissed about how you treated him during this ordeal?
If so, you’ve now fucked up a crucial part of your revenue season in business, and chased away a valuable employee. Good work, fellas.
As for Peterson, you can be horrified at his awful parenting – I was horrified to find out his staggering number of illegitimate kids a year ago, the beating is just an extra layer of disgust – but the legal impact of it is going to almost certainly be nothing more than counseling and probation. You want to essentially PRE-suspend a guy for possibly a YEAR over that? Why? Because your dipshit Governor told you to? Because Radisson ripped up your rewards points card?
Who knows what exciting new case will have Goodell and the league’s owners tying themselves in knots over next? But you can bet it’s coming. And judging by the current incoherence of #thisleague… it promises to be once again, low comedy.
He makes many, very, valid points.
Yes. Yes, he does.
I still have my iPhone 6 Plus on order as we speak. Despite….
a. Hating the living crap out of the new “Ellen” flavored OS color and font scheme
b. The fact I’ll have to buy a whole new suite of cases, dongles, cradles, tripods and what not to fit the thing.
Sure, I won’t be throwing this BIG IRON into any tight jeans and walking 3 miles through downtown Manhattan.
But it’s gonna be suh-WEET!
PS: And actually, YES, I DO want a virtual “big screen TV” in my pocket. The fact that seamless, widely available lightning fast LTE bandwidth is blanketing the nation, and content companies and sports leagues are pushing us video entertainment and live TV over mobile, it only makes sense to have the biggest screen possible.
PPS: There’s a 50-50 chance I hate it, and return it within a week. Stay tuned for that!
Yes, you read that headline right.
Sorry, to be a bummer. I know, I know. Kirk looked fabulous. I mean that. Hell, he looked like Tom Brady.
He made great reads, threw the ball on time and accurately, and knew when to flush plays that were dead on arrival. He was a leader, and ready to play, which is the hallmark of a pro’s pro who plays the role of backup.
I’m very happy for him. Good kid. But it was Jacksonville. And their secondary had all the coordination of electric football pieces with their plastic bases bent out of shape. I am pretty sure Cousins is not Brady, but we shall see.
Now, back to the smoldering wreckage that is the RG3 “era” here in Washington.
Oh sure. “We can rebuild him.” As Jay Gruden himself said after the game, Griffin will probably “set records” for the fastest comeback from a dislocated ankle.
Super. Can we hang a banner for that “record” too?
The sobering, depressing fact will begin to set in, if it hasn’t already: Mike Shanahan’s big bet is likely a loser.
Four for one. That was the deal. We gave up 3 number 1 picks and a 2nd rounder, and we got back RG3.
Four for one.
Except maybe Peyton Manning in his prime.
Now, RG3 is hurt again. At best (as of this writing) he could return at some point in 2014. And do what? Limp around and keep trying to “evolve” into a pocket passer? And what if Cousins is playing well?
At worst, he’s back to square one next summer, having missed one entire off-season, one entire season, and with major, catastrophic injuries to each side of the machinery that makes him mobile.
He will be entering his fourth season, as uncertain as ever as the franchise quarterback, yet also running into a crucial club decision on whether to pick up his 5th year option.
Cousins may complicate that greatly, should he show enough to warrant a new deal. Which he will be due as soon as 2016, since as a 4th round pick the team only controls him for four years off his rookie deal, not five like first rounders.
Fast forward to next September 1st. Can you see the nightmare from here? I can.
RG3 vs. Cousins is far from resolved as to your future, and both guys will need a decision. New deal for Kirk? Don’t pick up the option on Robert’s 5th year until he proves he can stay healthy? And how exactly do you manage that hot mess in the media and with fans? Who is on the cover of the media guide?
Hell, who’s the starter?
I know what you are saying: this is a GOOD problem to have. Right? Most teams would KILL for a decent young backup, right?
Sorta. And that’s assuming Cousins is “decent.” The remaining 14 games will be a demanding task master. Right now he’s got two wins as a starter in the NFL. Cleveland and Jacksonville.
As Denny Green once said: “If you wanna crown him, then go ahead… crown his ass!”
I said before the season – and loudly – that Griffin was going to have a good year. Better than last year, but not quite his rookie tour de force. My only fear, was re-injury.
Those fears have come home full force.
I don’t want to pretend like I know what players are “injury prone” but the data points are surely coming in on Griffin, and they look bad. Some have said he’s got little “sprinter legs” that are unsuitable for a long career.
Eh. Maybe. I don’t have a leg caliper on me, and Griffin hasn’t let me get close enough to him yet to measure.
Perhaps more troubling is the undeniable truth that the door is now sealed like a vault on him ever returning to the “electrifying” RG3 we saw as a rookie. The one who could capture the edge on any pass rusher, the one who could suck a defense into his jetwash while darting up the middle.
That guy? Gone.
Not that I bow out, at this point, nor should the Redskins.
But what did this organization project for Griffin, when they pushed such a dizzying ransom onto the table for him? Did they scout and rate him as a “revolutionary” dual-threat weapon for a decade or more? Did they expect to transition him into a more pure pocket passer after his rookie season?
We’ll never know, and the guy who committed us to this purchase has been fired. He’s likely in Cabo. Ask him.
It’s not so much that I wonder “WILL RG3 be any good when he comes back” it’s “WHAT GOOD is RG3 when he comes back from now this latest speed scrubbing injury?”
Let me take a wild swing at “Best Case/Worst Case.”
Best Case: Cousins plays GREAT, and this team makes the playoffs. He’s named the starter next summer (regardless of RG3’s rehab) we sign him to a new deal and tell RG3 this will be his last year as a Redskin. Cousins proceeds to be our franchise QB for a minimum of 5 years.
Worst Case: RG3 is wrecked and will never be the same. Cousins proves to be a backup caliber player you simply cannot make your starter, or spend any significant money on. We are back draft-hunting for a QB again next May.
The truth will probably land somewhere uncomfortably in the middle. And it will fill my phone lines on the radio for not just months, but likely, years.
I want to re-iterate, lest anyone think I’m just being a “sore-loser” on staking so much on RG3’s comeback and season sans Shanny, that I am HUGE Kirk Cousins fan now. Huge. Maybe this kid IS special. I would happily wear the dunce cap and sit in the corner if his future brilliance ends up parallelling the Brady-for-Bledsoe plot twist everybody watched in New England.
But aside from the short-lived sugar high of beating the stuffing out of the Jags and Chad Henne, this was a disaster as big as the blown out knee in the Seattle game. Maybe bigger.
At least following that game, nobody was wondering who the starter should be.
“I heard Twitter was gonna take away his blue check mark.”
Kids, let me tell you about Roy Wood Jr. Not only is he funny as shit, but he loves sports… and is CREATIVE AS HELL.
You know he conceives, shoots, produces and edits these weekly segments himself? Amazing.
Enjoy. And sign up for Cover5.
Make a league yourself, or join my free one here!