Roger Goodell assumed the position of NFL commissioner Sept 1 2006, taking over the spot previously held by Paul Tagliabue. Since taking over the position Goodell has seen his fair share of controversial moments, most recently the incidents involving Aaron Hernandez (murder), Ray Rice (domestic abuse) and Adrian Peterson (child abuse). These however are not the only situations Goodell has been criticized for over his 8 year run as commissioner. The Commissioner has also been criticized for his handling of Spygate, Bountygate and the 2012 referee lockout.
In 2007 the New England Patriots were caught taping the opposing teams defensive calls in order to gain an unfair advantage come game day. Goodell fined Head Coach, Bill Belichick $500,000 and the Patriots organization $250,000 and stripped of their first round draft pick the following year. The NFL then made the decision to have all evidence of the incident destroyed. This brought criticism to Goodell by U.S. Senator, Arien Specter and the Senate Judiciary Committee as Specter was quoted as saying, “I am very concerned about the underlying facts on the taping, the reasons for the judgment on the limited penalties and, most of all, on the inexplicable destruction of the tapes”.
In 2012 it was revealed that New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams administered a program that payed players to injure the opposing teams star athletes. Goodell was criticized for the severity of his punishments as he had a vested interest in the matter as Goodell and the NFL was promoting player safety at the time. The commissioner suspended Williams and Head Coach, Sean Payton for the entire 2012 season, while suspending Saints General Manager, Mickey Loomis for 8 games and Assistant Head Coach, Joe Vitt for 6 games. The Saints were also fined $500,00 and were stripped of their second round draft picks in both 2012 and 2013.
The NFL Commissioner was than criticized for his inability to come to terms with the NFL Referees Association in terms of a new collective bargaining agreement. He than forced the referees to be locked out of the NFL and issues replacement referees who had lower level college and high school experience only. There was not a single replacement referee who had division 1 college experience. Not only was he criticized by the media but the players were outraged and the NFLPA (National Football League Players Association) issued the following letter to owners:
“It is lost on us as to how you allow a Commissioner to cavalierly issue suspensions and fines in the name of player health and safety yet permit the wholesale removal of the officials that you trained and entrusted to maintain that very health and safety. It has been reported that the two sides are apart by approximately $60,000 per team. We note that your Commissioner has fined an individual player as much in the name of “safety.” Your actions are looking more and more like simple greed. As players, we see this game as more than the “product” you reference at times. You cannot simply switch to a group of cheaper officials and fulfill your legal, moral, and duty obligations to us and our fans. You need to end the lockout and bring back the officials immediately”
Finally the most compelling argument has been the player conduct issue he has faced since becoming commissioner in 2006. Goodell has delt a number of suspensions and fines for player misconduct and yet year by year, the problem only seems to worsen. Some of these include:
- Adam “Pacman” Jones – Off field issues – 2007
- Chris Henry – Substance abuse and personal conduct – 2007
- Terry “Tank” Johnson – Weapon ownership and drunk driving – 2007
- Wade Wilson – Banned substances – 2007
- Rodney Harrison – Banned substances – 2007
- Michael Vick – Dog Fighting – 2007/2009
- Donte Stallworth – DUI and Manslaughter – 2009
- Ben Rothlisberger – Rape – 2010
- Aaron Hernandez – Murder – 2012
- Josh Brent – Intoxication manslaughter – 2012
- Ray Rice – Domestic violence – 2014
Goodell and the NFL are under investigation for trying to hide/ eliminate evidence of the Ray Rice video and not taking the appropriate actions to punish the player. CREDO and UltraViolet, two advocacy groups have submitted a petition with over 100,000 signatures, pleading for the NFL to properly take care of its domestic violence program.
Goodell is currently under great criticism but has also done a lot of good for the NFL as well. He was a big reason the negotiations between the NFLPA and NFL ownership over the collective bargaining agreement was completed. He was a major player in league expansion, realignment and stadium development. He helped launch the NFL network which has created new TV agreements and he’s made the game safer with program development dedicated to educating the youth of proper techniques throughout North America.
Tweet us @elitesportsblog or myself @D_ScHramER34 and let us know how you feel about the job Roger Goodell is doing and whether you think the NFL commissioner should lose his job or not with #FireGoodell or #KeepGoodell