Roger Goodell’s failure to confront his own perception of the NFL may cost him his job

Roger Goodell failed to deal  with the ugliness of his task.

Roger Goodell failed to deal with the ugliness of his task.

The Associated Press is now reporting that a tape of Ray Rice knocking out his now wife, Janay Palmer, in a hotel elevator was sent from law enforcement to an NFL executive in April. Seemingly, the NFL is caught in a lie. They said no one in their office ever received a video.

This latest development threatens the jobs of top executives, including Commissioner Roger Goodell one would surmise.

The question still needs to be asked, why would the commissioner, at the very least, punt on his responsibility to perform due diligence in the Rice case and then, possibly, cover it up?

The answer might be that Goodell does not want his image of the NFL and one of its leading players to be sullied. Just for a moment, let’s relive what was on the video.

The first video showed Rice dragging Palmer’s lifeless body out of the elevator, so we assume he knocked her out.

The second video shows Rice instigating the hostility. Palmer seemed content to stay in the corner, but Rice then approached her and hit her the first time once they entered the elevator. When Palmer lunged at Rice in response, that’s when he struck her. Her neck snaps to the left with such force her hair flies up parallel to her head.

Then she drops, hitting her head on a railing as she falls to the floor.

What’s equally as disturbing, is what Rice does after his future wife lays unconscious. He drags her onto the lobby floor, but not all the way. He then picks up her sandal and while getting out of the elevator himself, he kicks her legs out of the way so he can get by.

Rice shows no remorse, concern or empathy. He does not check her pulse or look into her eyes. He seems unconcerned that he may have killed her. The security man in the lobby does not check on her either. Palmer eventually receives attention when she regains consciousness and sits up; at that point, a female casino employee bends down to look at her and rub her back.

Even writing about it is upsetting and stressful. It makes you do what Goodell apparently did – turn away. Who wants to see the image of a well-liked and upstanding football star get shattered within seconds? Who wants to see someone act with almost diabolical callousness to his own violent act?

Goodell wanted to cling to the previous image of Rice – the one in which Rice is cast as a team leader and community volunteer.

However, as the arbiter of fines and suspensions, Goodell does not have that luxury.

Goodell and the NFL community need to look at situations honestly when something like this happens. We all need to leave our perceptions and belief systems behind in the face of brutality. What we think the NFL “shield” represents has no bearing in the consideration of a violent act.

Goodell failed to do that when he suspended Rice for two games. Goodell also has a history of denial when it comes to domestic abuse. In his eight years as commissioner, Goodell, according to deadspin, has ruled on 56 cases involving domestic abuse, which have resulted in only 13 games of suspensions. Those cases do not include Rice.

Protecting the NFL shield is something Goodell wants to do, but hiding behind it when it comes to domestic abuse damages Goodell and the organization he represents. And it may cost him his job.

Kevin Lynch

Kevin Lynch is in his 27th season covering the NFL, the San Francisco 49ers and Bay Area sports. He also is a guest radio host and pregame 49ers host on KNBR-AM San Francisco - the flagship station for the 49ers, San Francisco Giants, and Stanford football and basketball. Working mainly for sfgate.com, the San Francisco Chronicle's web site, Lynch is expanding into sports' biggest questions and hottest debates such as - LBGTQ acceptance, athlete criminality, the ethics of performance-enhancing drugs, marijuana, locker room culture, sports and gender, sports and sex, sports and money, sports and race, sports and social change and many other issues. He has written editorials on LBGTQ resistance in sports for the Chronicle and has appeared on KQED radio, Comcast Sports Bay Area and ESPN's Outside the Lines to talk about a variety of sports topics. He completed a Master's in Sociology at San Jose State in 2015, which included a thesis on LBGtT Resistant Attitudes and Behaviors in Sports.


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