I appreciate the invitation to discuss the current state of the NFL.
As an avid fan, I am disheartened by the current trend of reactionary judgments under the Goodell administration, the apparent inconsistent doling out of those judgments including fines, suspensions and rule enhancements and the lack of accountability, be it real or simply perceived, of Goodell and his office.
Football is a violent sport. It is in the best interest of the commissioner and NFL officials to protect their business venture by ensuring the health and safety of their players. That being said, the sport remains violent. When a so-called defenseless receiver drops his head milliseconds before impact with a defender creating contact with the defender’s helmet, it is apparent to most right-thinking sports fans that the play is an impossible one to legislate with any type of punitive action; namely fines or suspensions.
When a questionable 15-yard penalty is called on a pass rusher for a late hit to the quarterback, it seems a $20,000 fine to follow-up that call is an incredible leap and undercuts any respect fans have for the league offices.
And, when it appears you are targeting a single player or a single team with suspensions and turn that player or that franchise into the example for the league, you are adversely affecting the game, the traditions it represents and everything American.
Simply because there is a weekend when multiple high-profile hits lead to injuries does not mean the league needs to overreact to correct it. If the driver of a car over-corrects when he skids on an icy roadway, the car often crashes off the other side of the road. The NFL is on a slippery road now and appears to me and others to be driven by a reckless, egomaniac who is so wrapped up in his downplayed, false humility and self image that his actual smugness, again, whether real or imagined, seams to plume from his very presence.
On top of that, the NFL brand has certainly not stopped capitalizing on the same hits it claims it no longer tolerates. An example occurred just last night with a montage leading into Monday night’s game that featured four helmet to helmet shots. I’m just sayin’.
Outside of the new crackdown on so-called “devastating hits,” Goodell has earned a reputation in Pittsburgh as an inconsistent sheriff of sorts, particularly in regards to Ben Roethlisberger and his suspension.
Goodell suspended Ben for tarnishing the NFL shield. Fine.
But he based his suspension on information gleaned from the NFL private investigation team, information that was never divulged to the public. All we know is that accusers in two incidents came forward and alleged Ben did something illegal of a sexual nature. We read media speculation as to what might have occurred, but those details are not confirmed. Again, fine.
However, when no criminal charges are filed against the man and he is still suspended simply for allegations, I think NFL fans are due a more thorough explanation of the determination by the league, other than Goodell’s gut assessment of the situation.
When you have other players around the league involved with everything from guns to assaults, incidents where charges are actually filed, and Goodell rules no suspension is due a more detailed explanation is required than his staple response of “the situation didn’t warrant a suspension.”
Thanks so much for your transparency, your forthcoming nature and your respect for all of us feeble-minded fans who can’t look at and judge facts, just like you. Appreciate that.
Goodell’s response to a reporter in Pittsburgh, a well-respected reporter, who asked him how he felt that some fans perceived the suspension to Roethlisberger as unfair or too harsh was, “I didn’t know anyone felt that way.” Really? Please tell me you are kidding? Or as our friends on ESPN would say, “Come on, man??!!”
At least man up and face some criticism.
Finally Goodell has stirred up fans like myself because of his apparent untouchable nature while trying to pretend he is one of us. He comes and associates with the common folk at media-orchestrated tailgating sessions and the like, but he appears more like a dictator than a man of the people. He never addresses the real concerns of fans regarding the hits, fines, suspensions and the apparent inconsistencies of his judgments.
Until I get some answers to these issues and Goodell decides to grace us with something more than a pre-approved sound bite, I have to express my displeasure with his actions and with the general direction of the league.