NFL commissioner Roger Goodell remains under fire for his handling of the Ray Rice controversy. A lot of people are calling for his resignation, including KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel.
What Did The NFL Know And When?
Good question. The NFL says Robert S. Mueller III, former director of the FBI, will conduct an independent investigation into the league's handling of evidence in the Rice case.
"Mueller probably has a lot of credibility where Goddell does not to get to the bottom of those questions," Art said.
Rice was fired from the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely from the NFL on Monday, after TMZ posted a video that shows him punching his then-fiancée in the face and rendering her unconscious.
Goodell claims the NFL hadn’t seen the video before this week. But the Associated Press reports a police official sent the tape to the NFL five months ago.
Art says it doesn't matter whether Goodell was in the know about the video.
"He needs to decide whether he wants to be looked at as incompetent or a liar," he said.
But either way, Art says Goodell needs to go.
Bosses Out Of Loop — Nothing New
If someone under Goodell in the NFL kept the knowledge of the video from him, he's still the one who has to answer for it. It's like President Ronald Reagan with the Iran-Contra scandal.
Closer to home, it happened with former University of Washington football coach Don James.
He resigned in 1993 after the Pac-10 Conference placed UW on a two-year probation and prohibited the team from playing in post-season games for two years. The conference said there was a "lack of institutional control" that allowed violations of NCAA rules by Huskies players.
In his resignation letter, James said, "I have decided I can no longer coach in a conference that treats its players and coaches so unfairly."
'Czar Of Punishment'
Back to Goodell. He proclaimed himself the "czar of punishment" when he assumed the role of NFL commissioner in 2007.
Art points out that the players' union wanted an independent arbitrator but let the issue go during contract negotiations.
"Goodell has had a series of missteps in the power that he was granted," he said.
NFL Concussion Controversy
According to Art, the biggest misdeed under Goodell's leadership was a settlement for retired players regarding concussions and medical issues.
"I believe that was a Goodell-inspired decision that gave them far too little money over far too many years," he said.
The proposed settlement is $765 million for 20 years split among 30 teams. As part of the deal, the NFL said it wasn't responsible and admitted nothing. But the New York Times reported this week that seven former players say a federal appeals court should intervene in a proposed settlement before it is made final.
Also under Goodell's leadership: the "bungled" punishment for the so-called "Bountygate" scandal.
The New Orleans Saints were found to have operated a bounty system in which players were paid bonuses for, among other things, hard hits and deliberately injuring opposing players. The system was in place from 2009 — the season the Saints won the Super Bowl — to 2011, and between 22 and 27 Saints players participated in the program.
"Goodell's handing of that was so bad that his predecessor Paul Tagliabue was brought in to unwind the mess he made of the punishments," Art said. Tagliabue vacated all of the players' suspensions in the scandal, saying that the coaches were primarily responsible for the scheme.
'Suffer The Consequences'
Some are calling for a complete housecleaning at the NFL. Art says it must start at the top.
"So it adds up to a very difficult time for the NFL, and I think Goodell is going to have to suffer the consequences, even though the owners are making a whole lot of money under his stewardship," Art said. "If he stays, that's why."
You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwest and Crosscut.com.