Roger Goodell, commissioner of the National Football League, by his own analysis has received justifiable criticism for the NFL’s incoherent policies on domestic violence, and for his own errors in the case of Ray Rice, the Baltimore Ravens running back caught on video knocking out his wife.
In addition to Rice, Jonathan Dwyer, the Arizona Cardinals running back, was arrested over allegations that he head-butted his 27-year-old wife; Greg Hardy and Ray McDonald have also recently faced charges, sparking a media frenzy.
Goodell has scrambled like a quarterback desperately trying to avoid a sack. He’s apologized, created a VP for Social Responsibility position, named three women to be outside consultants, and promised a new conduct policy for the League. He’s set up the former FBI director Robert Mueller, now an attorney close to the NFL, to run an allegedly independent review on how the Ray Rice matter was handled, agreeing that no one “should take my word.” When asked whether he should resign or be sacked, Goodell responded no, “because I have acknowledged my mistake.”
But the mistakes keep coming. It is bizarre, for example, that Goodell’s “consultants” are all white, and exclude experts who are also former players or wives of players who may offer great insight into what needs to be done.
Why is the NFL sticking with Goodell? He is a good man caught in a storm of change and transformation. It is not his fault, but it is his responsibility to negotiate these winds of change. There are those who worry that the recent furor about domestic violence cases will get linked to the shocking reports that NFL players have a 30 percent chance of Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Do repeated concussions — trauma of the brain — contribute to the outbursts of domestic violence?