Here is a link to my Wednesday column about Roger Goodell. The full text runs below:
Don’t be surprised if NFL commissioner Roger Goodell resigns. That’s where this whole Ray Rice scandal is leading — to the commissioner being out on his whatsis.
Forget the initial two-game suspension he gave Rice for beating up his then fiancée, Janay Palmer. Goodell admitted it was a mistake and no one called for his head then. But this latest video could lead to Goodell’s farewell.
Let’s review the video. We see Ray and Janay walk into an elevator at a casino in Atlantic City. Switch to the view inside the elevator. Ray pushes Janay. Outraged, Janay rushes at Ray. Ray cracks a left hook to her jaw, cracks her without thinking, cracks her as easily as breathing. Janay goes down flat. Janay is unconscious. Ray drags Janay to the door and drops her on her face. She is half in and half out of the elevator.
Give Ray credit here. He doesn’t just leave her in the elevator to ride up and down with strangers. He has standards. He wants to get her out. But he has trouble lugging her fully out of the elevator. So, he kicks her like a dead dog. He yanks on her lifeless legs. Fade to black.
This is where we have issues with Goodell. TMZ, that entertainment website — the one that outed Donald Sterling — got a copy of this video, but the NFL couldn’t get it. The NFL has a security force rivaling the CIA and it couldn’t get the video. The NFL has high-powered lawyers who wear shiny black loafers with those tassels, and those lawyers couldn’t get the video.
I mean everyone knows most elevators at hotels in Atlantic City — and not just Atlantic City — have built-in cameras spying on us, but it never occurred to the tassel-loafer guys to ask, “Do you have a video of the knockout punch?”
On Tuesday, TMZ reported that the league never asked for a copy of the video. The police requested and got it. Rice’s lawyer requested and got it. TMZ somehow got it. But the league never asked.
Why didn’t the NFL request the video?
You got me.
Maybe the league didn’t want to know. The league should have wanted to know.
By not requesting the video, Goodell was a bad commissioner. If it turns out he actually saw the video and said he didn’t see it — i.e. he lied — he needs to find another line of work. Now. Multiple media outlets have reported that the NFL did see Video 2. You need to know that.
But the stuff I wrote is mere prelude to the big issue. Think about this.
The first video already existed, the dragging-Janay-out-of-the-elevator video. Everyone knew about it. Everyone saw it, Janay out cold like a dead mackerel. Goodell saw that. He didn’t have to be a genius to figure out what happened. It’s not like Janay had a fainting spell inside the elevator or fell down from low blood sugar. Ray clocked her. Goodell knew that.
Goodell should have suspended Rice indefinitely based on Video 1. And that leads to the big point. The damning point.
Goodell became serious, showed outrage only when Video 2 — the left hook to the jaw — went public.
What does that tell you?
It says Goodell did not care about the morality of the issue or the legality of the issue, did not care about doing the right thing. He cared only about the look of things.
A national video showing a star running back taking the knockout shot against his fiancée gave the NFL a bad look. It was bad for business. And Goodell made a stand.
Understand what I’m saying. Goodell acted strongly only when faced with a public-relations disaster, became serious only when Video 2 went public. But Video 2 changed nothing. Goodell already knew everything he needed to know — Ray knocked out Janay.
You wonder if Goodell has a moral core. His actions in this case were disgusting and continue to be disgusting. And we are forced to doubt him. We doubt him when he expresses concern about players hurting their wives and girlfriends, and we doubt him when he expresses concern about concussions and player safety. We doubt his sincerity. We just doubt the guy.
That leads us to John Harbaugh, the other Harbaugh, the coach of the Ravens — Rice’s former employer before they dumped him on Monday. Another public-relations move.
We ask these questions about Harbaugh:
What did he really know?
Did he see Video 2 before it went public?
He said he didn’t. Why didn’t he? It sure was available.
What else did he need to know after he saw Video 1? Why didn’t the Ravens cut Rice when Video 1 went public?
John Harbaugh conducted a nationally televised news conference on Monday after the Ravens cut Rice. Harbaugh gave an abysmal performance. He ducked almost every serious question, saying he didn’t want to “get into” this or that about Rice, as if they were trivial issues, or perhaps mere gossip.
Like his brother Jim who’s mishandling his own mess, the Ray McDonald affair, John Harbaugh should not have spoken for his team. Ownership should have handled this serious, non-football matter. (On Tuesday morning, Jed York finally spoke on radio about McDonald.) But, OK, there was John Harbaugh saying he supports the couple — Ray and Janay.
Supports the couple? As in the two sticking it out? No, John. I don’t think so. Uh-uh. Janay should flee this abuser before things get worse, now, yesterday.
On CNN, Jeffrey Toobin called John Harbaugh’s remarks “moronic.” Moronic works for me. But, there are morons and then there are morons.
John Harbaugh is a media moron.
Roger Goodell is a moral moron.
I’ll take the media moron every time.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at lowell.cohn.pressdemocrat.com.