What to do, what to do: Roger Goodell contemplates changes in NFL conduct policy

goodell signIf you haven’t heard the names Ray Rice or Adrian Peterson lately, you haven’t been paying much attention to your surroundings.

The NFL in all its facets, from commissioner to owners to coaching staff to players, has come under tremendous scrutiny for its handling of the way its players have (mis)treated others.  At this point, there’s no need to rehash who did what to whom.  You can pick up any newspaper and find that out.

What is most important at this juncture is that the NFL finds constructive ways to move forward and prevent these incidents from happening again.  Otherwise, the league and those who comprise it will be doomed to repeat their mistakes and ultimately lose their stranglehold as the most watched sport in the nation.

In his most recent press conference, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell promised to create new institutions that will address these issues and have them in place by this coming Super Bowl, four-and-a-half months away.  Why so long, you ask?  Well, devising an entirely new conduct policy with likely resistance from the Players Association will take time so let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.  Trust me.  The NFL will want to get this right.   They only have one shot at this thing.  At least Commissioner Goodell does.

Vick arrestedBut first, for a brief moment, let’s step into our NFL time machine.  Michael Vick once committed the heinous crime of running a violent dog-fighting ring.  He was sent to jail for it, just shy of two years.  He paid his dues then ultimately signed with another team once he was free and clear of charges.  Why?  Because Michael Vick possessed a skill set that few others do.

When Vick came back to the league, however, he was not the player he once was (which actually wasn’t all that good to begin with but that’s beside the point).  Michael Vick was a draw.  In fact, he was such a draw that he signed two different $100 million contracts:  One with the Atlanta Falcons who drafted him in the first place and one with the Philadelphia Eagles who took a flyer on him when he was once again eligible to play.

Michael Vick now plays for the New York Jets and makes $5 million a year which might still sound like a lot but is a pittance compared to what he’s used to.  He is the backup to second year quarterback Geno Smith and has yet to take a snap this season.  Michael Vick’s window for all intents and purposes has closed but that didn’t stop him from getting paid while it was still open.

ADAdrian Peterson’s and Ray Rice’s windows of opportunity are not closed.  In fact, one can make the argument that both Peterson (definitely) and Rice (probably) were better players than Vick.  After recent child abuse charges, Peterson was placed on exempt status by the Minnesota Vikings.  He is currently getting paid while the charges are settled but is not allowed any contact with his team.  Rice’s suspension for domestic violence is pending.  The Ravens are not currently paying him.

So what is the league to do about situations like this moving forward?  What sort of guidelines should it set for players who break the law?

The commissioner has promised fans that the league will no longer tolerate such behavior.  That message rang true when public outrage over the initial two-game Ray Rice suspension warranted a far stricter change in the league’s domestic violence policy: six-games for the first violation, lifetime ban for the second.

Lifetime ban.

Those words carried weight when we first heard them.  But is the NFL truly ready to cut all ties with one of its meal tickets after consecutive violations?  At this point, that seems hard to imagine.

Jameis WinstonLet’s take Florida State quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston as an example.  Winston is the most highly publicized college football player today.  Winston has had his run-ins with the law, from rape allegations to shoplifting charges.  Winston was most recently suspended for a game by his coach for improper behavior on campus.

Winston will be one of the most talented college athletes to enter this year’s NFL Draft, if he chooses to do so.  Winston is only a sophomore.  With all the pressure currently on the NFL, would a team take a chance on a guy who’s clearly talented enough to play at the next level but also just as likely to end up on the front page for things done wrong?

More importantly, would the Players Association, whose sole purpose it is to protect the players, agree to changes that might include permanent banishment for inappropriate behavior?

The league must now walk a very tight rope with no net to protect them.  Players and owners MUST act in the league’s best interest before more people are victimized and more fans are alienated.  Protecting the league’s image and the overall well-being of its players (and their families and society as a whole) are not mutually exclusive.

I’m not suggesting the NFL’s future is tenuous.  Ratings are higher than they’ve ever been.  But run a few more criminals onto the front pages and see how much more weary a fan base can become.

Breast cancer glovesIf the NFL wanted to show true leadership, it should take the forefront in educating people about domestic violence or gun violence or child abuse or choose whichever crime one of its players commits next.  The league already raises millions of dollars for breast cancer awareness.  Are the pink gloves, cleats and towels the players wear every October merely fashion statements or is there genuine concern among the league and its players about the well-being of others?

If the NFL and other sports leagues want to get serious about the issues that threaten us, they should lead the way.  Put up or shut up.  If a player makes $16 mil a year and commits a crime, suspend him without pay and send that money directly to the cause he violated.  Mandate that the player spend a hundred or a thousand our however many service hours are deemed appropriate to learn and educate others before returning to the field of play.  Hold teams accountable as well.  If a player runs over someone after driving drunk, have the team match the player’s financial penalties for not supplying him with a driver and an automobile.  How difficult can all this be?

The NFL and other professional sports league have the means.  Do they have the desire?  It’s unfortunate it took them this long to figure out the difference between right and wrong.  At this point, we still don’t even know if they have.

Playing professional sports should be a privilege not a right.  A skill set does not define a human being.  Generosity, humility, determination and character do.  It’s about time those seeking protection behind the NFL shield learn that fact and start doing something about it.

Now is their time.  What will they do with this opportunity?

* In case you missed the SportsChump talking the NFL’s current woes live on the radio, the link can be found by clicking on this link.

 

13 thoughts on “What to do, what to do: Roger Goodell contemplates changes in NFL conduct policy

  1. I agree with you Chump. Sad that it takes all of this exposure to get changes made when they should have been done years ago. Didn’t Ocho Cinco head butt his wife a few years back?

    What do you think of Hope Solo and the lack of coverage on her case?

  2. D…

    You mean the soccer-playing Tawny Kitaen?

    You’re right. I don’t know all the details of who she beat and when but it’s also soccer, not the NFL, so it’s not gonna get the coverage. If a WNBA player beat her husband, it wouldn’t make as much news either. A WNBA having a husband in the first place would be something.

    Okay, so that was a bit wrong.

    But if your point s that the NFL is getting a lot of bad press while other incidents don’t get the coverage, all I can say to that is that the NFL brought that upon itself. It’s the most watched sport in the nation so its athletes, particularly the more well-known ones, are going to get a lot more media coverage.

    If we saw a video of Hope Solo beating the crap out her man (I think all we heard was a 911 call, right?), we’d probably all pay attention but not to the extent we would with Rice and his wife or Adrian Peterson and his kid.

    I’m not saying it’s wrong for a wife to abuse her husband, either physically or psychologically, nor that it’s any more wrong for a husband to do the same. It’s all wrong.

    Is the media coverage biased? Sure. I’m not sure that makes any of these incidents better or worse.

  3. A conduct policy in the NFL where the owners league hierarchy and the union remain a goddamn joke ! Like the kids’ story …. the Emperor has no clothes , and Roger Goodell is proving to be an inept leader of this league , bare as#sed clueless , leading the NFL , built on ambiguity , misogyny and dare one repeat the word and say racism ?

    The Niners and the league (NF) give a pass to Ray McDonald and all the defensive player Ray McDonald is said to have done , was to beat his pregnant girlfriend , but the fans and league seem to be overlooking that particular story. Shameful and damn well disgusting . McDonald in an interview joked about the incident but then plead not guilty to the charges and awaits a trial date . I guess the wheels of justice in California (among the highest rates of domestic violence in the nation) is not only slow but damn well broken , not favoring the victims at all .

    So how many more times can the Jameis Winston story and situation change ? His lawyers are now saying the player might be willing to offer a financial settlement to his alleged rape victim. Somewhere along the line AD Stan Wilcox , FSU and the Tallahassee Police Department must have known their #hit would have been brought to light in seeking to engineer a coverup . Yet , you had anal retentive idiots suggesting the victim and her family were opportunists .

    tophatal …………

  4. So Johnny Miller isn’t happy with Tom Watson’s picks for the US Ryder Cup Team ? Miller’s quips and rants have becomke as boring as the man himself . Watson can only go with the best players available to him in terms of the Fedex Cup standings and his two alternative choices . What is it with Miller ?

    This competition at Gleneagles in Scotland, should be one hell of a contest in terms of the singles , four ball and pairings . Odds I believe , might slightly favor Paul McGinley’s (European captain) side .

  5. Bill Simmons ode to everything idiotic and sometimes simply boring with ESPN The network and the Niners with their suspension of broadcaster Ted Robinson shows both parties to be damn hypocrites and morons . Robinson gets suspended for saying Jenay Parker was in part to blame for being abused by Ray Rice but the franchise hasn’t the balls to suspend their defensive player Ray McDonald for beating his pregnant girlfriend . Yet , the NFL wants to nothing to do with that incident concerning the Niners’ player . A real double standard by this league don’t you think ?

  6. Al…

    As I mentioned in the post, Goodell and company can no longer afford to get this wrong. At this point, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt only because we’re in it so deep. I want to see how they pull out of this but as a fan, I want to see everyone held accountable for their actions and that includes not only the players but the coaches, owners and commissioner as well.

    We shall see, I guess.

    You’re right about the Winston case. Who was the first to report that there was hush money involved and how reliable of a source was that? It wouldn’t surprise me if there was, I just want to know if where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

    I didn’t hear Miller’s comments about the Ryder Cup team but I don’t think it would have mattered who Tom Watson picked. We’re gonna lose this thing.

    And just out of curiosity, did ESPN suspend Bill Simmons for his use of profanity or simply for calling Roger Goodell a liar without any substantial proof?

  7. Chris

    Let me pose this question , which act was said to be more egregious ? Rice beating Jenay Parker , now his wife or the Niners’ Ray McDonald beating his pregnant girlfriend ? If Goodell can take the action of in essence suspending Rice before throwing him out of the league with union now seeking appeal that decision . Why are you now willing to give the league the benefit of the doubt ? The Niners and the league are inconsistent with their idiocy and the fans are continuing to show apathy .

    Gators’ AD Jeremy Foley says Wil Muschamp’s position is not in jeopardy , but they will seek to address the issue at the end of this season . In other words , if the team misses out on the playoff format then Muschamp might as well pack his bags and seek life elsewhere ?

    The Ryder Cup looks as if , there is a real competition going on .

  8. Winston’s pattern of behavior since being at FSU should be enough of a sign , without the incompetency of Tallahassee Police Dept to show how screwed up this whole situation was to begin with . Now there are further allegations this was not the first sexual asault the player might have been involved in. Now what ?

  9. Both incidents were despicable, Al. The difference is we actually saw the Rice incident with our own eyes. Had we seen the Hardy and McDonald incidents, I’m sure we’d be just as appalled.

    And here’s all I’m saying about the league. This is their problem. Goodell is in charge. They’re reaping what they’ve sown. Let’s see how they decide to finally fix this thing and how they hold their representatives responsible in the future. And if that’s not good enough, then we get rid of the bum.

    Switching to the Gators, I think Muschamp can afford three losses this season. Anything more than that and he might be looking for a job with Goodell.

    And I was watching the Ryder Cup early this morning. The US was actually playing well enough to tie things up at 6-6. What the hell happened after that?

  10. Chris

    Left to their own devices the NFL has shown there is little common sense to be found in the league’s headquarters let alone within the front office’s of the teams within the league . Baltimore Ravens’ owner Steve Bisciotti stated he wasn’t aware he could have provided input in how the NFL could have dealt with the matter . I guess that’s why the tape went missing which was in the team’s possession as well as a copy which was also sent to the NFL’s headquarters . The league has no frigging credibility whatsoever in spite of some sponsors still wishing to throw money and the NFL .

    Ray McDonald joked with the local press about his incident and the plead not guilty to the assault charge with the California Legal system which is within his right to do.

    The US were not playing that well , look at what happened in the singles and four ball competition . They were no match for the European team at all . 2016 , the Ryder Cup reverts back to US soil and the event will be staged at the Hazeltine Course in Chaska , Minnesota ,. I wonder who’ll be the US captain for the event then ? Hopefully , it won’t be given to another idiot merely because of name recognition as has been the case with the PGA with their propensity for their doling out that alleged honor and privilege .

    God , the Patriots looked bad last night and that #ss kicking handed out by the Chiefs was more than justified . Bill Belichick has become a conceited and self-absorbed ba$tard .

    So Manny Pacquiao now believes Floyd Mayweather wants no part of him ? I guess that’s why the sport of boxing has become so redundant . Even the Filipino fighter’s wife is said to be tired of his schtick . The same can be said of Money Mayweather as well .

    tophatal ……..

  11. As I suggested, Al, the NFL has one final shot to get this right, at least under the Goodell regime. I suggest they use a fair percentage of that $10+ bil a year they earn to keep things in line. It’s not like they don’t have the resources.

    I didn’t catch the clip but I heard Mickelson called out Tom Watson for the way he played the US team. Not that it would have mattered.

    I liked the Chiefs plus the points in that Monday night game, man. Your Pats might be in a little trouble as they have to play the Bengals this week.

    And we can stop talking about Pacquiao-Mayweather any time now as it’s a fight that’s never going to happen.

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