Roger Goodell is not having a great week. He’s off in the U.K. promoting the NFL’s sub-par football product by way of a team whose kicker was revealed this week to have written “I abused my wife” in journal entries from 2013.
A total collapse of the public perception that the league has made any progress on handling violence against women since the Ray Rice era didn’t stop ol’ Rog from sitting down to spin, spin, spin the state of the league.
BBC Sport reporter Richard Conway posted a partial transcript of his sit-down with Goodell today, focusing on the questions about Josh Brown and the league’s wacko rules for touchdown celebrations. Conway wrote that questions that preceded the questions about domestic violence were about the NFL’s hopes for international expansion.
Goodell answered Conway’s first question about touchdown celebrations by saying that “as a professional athlete you’ve got certain standards that you have to meet. You have to dress in a certain way, you have to perform in a certain way and within certain rules. And what anyone does on that field reflects on everybody. And off the field. And that’s why we all focus so much on ‘these are the standards we want to meet’ and lets meet them.”
Conway then asked Goodell to talk about the dichotomy of punishing players for touchdown celebrations, but continuing to mishandle domestic violence investigations. (Shortly after Conway posted the transcript, the league fined Odell Beckham “$24,309 for unsportsmanlike conduct when he took off his helmet during his touchdown celebration Sunday,” per Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.)
Goodell’s answer was essentially: No, it’s actually the fans who are the idiots here.
Conway: The criticism that comes back to you is that people see punishments for touchdown celebrations but then only one game for a domestic violence incident. It must be very difficult to balance those things and explain them?
Goodell: They are. I understand the public’s misunderstanding of those things and how that can be difficult for them to understand how we get to those positions. But those are things that we have to do. I think it’s a lot deeper and a lot more complicated than it appears but it gets a lot of focus.
Let’s see: The NFL has eroded public trust by its handling of players accused of violence against women, its treatment of players suffering brain injuries during and after their careers, and treating the healthy players on the field as assholes for celebrating touchdowns. In the meantime, their product is currently terrible and they can’t figure out why ratings are way, way down. But it’s the fans who are misunderstanding things.
Here’s Goodell’s answer to a question about Brown:
Conway: Lots of positives but it has also been a tumultuous year in terms of the issues the NFL have had to deal with and I know this week with Josh Brown, that’s another thing that has come back as an issue, that’s perhaps overshadowing this weekend in terms of how the League deals with domestic violence. Are you happy in terms of Josh Brown with the investigation that was carried out and the one game punishment that was given to him?
Goodell: Well you have to go and get the facts. We have asked repeatedly for those facts and the information that’s been gathered by law enforcement both orally and in writing. And we weren’t able to get access to it. So you have to make decisions on whatever information you have. We take this issue incredibly seriously. This is something we’ve been working on with policy changes, to educating our players to make sure they understand how they deal with issues with their family, give them resources to be able to deal with this. But when it happens we’re not going to tolerate it. So we have some new information here, we’ll evaluate that in the context of our policy and we’ll take it from there.
- Here is a list of the NFL’s correspondence with the King County Sheriff’s Office.
- Here is an argument that the league shouldn’t have needed the most recently released documents to make a determination.
- Here is a long look at the evidence that was available to the NFL and reporters back in September.
While the NFL figures out how to handle yet another botched investigation—which apparently includes telling Josh Brown he was punished only for a May 21, 2015 arrest so that they can use a loophole to punish him again to save face—the kicker has been placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt list and will not travel to London with his team.