Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Roger Goodell Should Not Step Down

There is no doubt that the NFL and the Ravens have mismanaged their handling of the Ray Rice case. They've told us that much.

When I interviewed Don Van Natta, the ESPN Outside The Lines Reporter and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner who wrote his expose on the Ravens handling of the situation, it was tough to conclude otherwise.

Calls for Roger Goodell to step down, however, are not only premature but unsubstantiated. While many believe Goodell saw the video, there is simply no concrete evidence to date to suggest that's the case.

Some argue he should resign on the basis that at the very least he should have known of the video's existence or was willfully blind to it. While I am sympathetic to that position, ultimately there is no evidence he knew of the dramatic and disturbing images on that video.

Historically, Goodell has been tough on all those associated with the NFL - players, coordinators, coaches and owners (see Vilma, Payton, Loomis, Vitt and Irsay).

So in light of Goodell's (fierce) past practice, what did he have to gain by covering things up? Not sure he did.

Perhaps a more likely scenario is that he treated this case as one in series of 89 domestic violence cases the NFL has faced since 2000 - and which have received on average a 2 game suspension. And perhaps a more likely scenario is that Goodell has become somewhat desensitized to instances of domestic violence and saw this as just another case.

The two videos are what caused the public uproar and backlash. However, there was no uproar or backlash in connection with the previous 88 domestic violence cases. And as a lawyer I will say this - that's what domestic violence looks like (and frankly sometimes it's a hell of lot worse).

And so perhaps a fair question to ask ourselves is whether as a collective we have become desensitized to domestic violence and whether, as a collective, we have also failed.

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