Saturday, October 31, 2015
Fire Roger Goodell
NOTE: This was first published on August 6, it was updated by early September, and has required another pertinent update at the end of October -
The suspension of Tom Brady took on a life of its own that the National Football League created, and the slamming of the league by Judge Richard Berman in overturning the suspension showed the league cannot escape without some fundamental change, for the campaign against Brady over the 2014 AFC Championship Game has revealed in graphic detail that there is no longer any justification for Roger Goodell to retain his job as NFL Commissioner. Goodell has proven beyond any objective doubt that he is a failure and must be fired.
Why fire Goodell? Let us count the ways -
Roger Goodell is maliciously ignorant of the game and of his job - The transcript of the Brady appeal showed that the league was completely ignorant of the fact that footballs lose PSI naturally and it is just the latest example of how ignorant the Goodell-era NFL is about the game and of its own rulebook. That ignorance was first displayed in Spygate - as Scott Shaffer put it, "The media reports as if filming opposing coaches is a violation of NFL rules. Roger Goodell shares this belief (and) based his punishment on it......However, the rules don't support this belief." The start of Spygate was a 2006 memo sent to teams by Ray Anderson about sideline videotaping, a memo that misquoted the rules. Goodell never tried to correct the error; instead he couldn't accept when Belichick schooled him on the rulebook and based punishment of Bill Belichick on cherry-picking the rulebook where Belichick applied the rule consistently.
Ignorance of the game continued with his punishment of the Saints over "Bountygate." Goodell regarded player side bets for hits on opponents as some kind of rules violation, and after a prolonged smear campaign and resultant legal fight (aided by the American Enterprise Institute's data disproving Goodell's premise of the Saints playing dirty) Goodell lost, and was publicly dressed down for his approach by former commissioner Paul Tagiabue.
The Brady transcript repeatedly shows Goodell being caught by surprise by new documents and generally being lazy and unprepared.
Goodell likes to talk unctuously about "the integrity of the game" - and has never offered any explanation why sideline videotaping somehow violates said integrity, or why a trumped-up allegation of football tampering somehow reflected a violation of the game's integrity. It's because he has no clue about the integrity of the game.
Goodell refuses accountability, he strives to cover his own ass - The league falsifying the rulebook and then basing punishment on that falsified reading of the rulebook has become the pattern in Goodell's punishments. As Matt Chatham and others have shown, Goodell has repeatedly changed the rules - or as Antonio Cromartie put it, made them up as he goes. Often cited in media accounts was Article 46 of the CBA, except Goodell couldn't make it stick in his past punishments and failed to make it work against Brady On Brady, Goodell made an issue of "non-cooperation" and treated it as though it were part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement - even though in fact it "didn't exist in the most current version of the CBA....(It was) introduced in the commissioner's panicky do-over rewriting of the league's personal conduct policy, released in December 2014."
Sally Jenkins noted that what makes Goodell's rulings so entertaining "is because he always doubles back." When Ray Rice's initial suspension raised a media uproar - even though TMZ's infamous elevator video verified Rice's testimony to everyone - Goodell played CYA and smeared Rice to be a liar - and of course lost in court because of it. Tom Brady's cellphone wasn't important until Goodell once again needed something to cover his ass.
Goodell is a liar on a continuing and colossal scale - Goodell lied to the Patriots - through David Gardi's January 19 letter, though Dean Blandino denials of his knowledge of the ordeal, and we suspect also directly to Robert Kraft during the May 2015 team owner meetings that saw Kraft accept Goodell's malicious punishments; when Goodell stabbed the Patriots in the back it led to Kraft's now-famous training camp missive about how he shouldn't have trusted the league - and has lied about the Patriots. He lied about Brady "destroying his cellphone" and hid the fact Brady acknowledged changing his cellphones - because it was not relevant to anything. Goodell lied about footballs being tampered with and lied about the nature of Tom Brady's correspondence with ball attendant John Jazstremski (Ted Wells shared in the lie; the two refused to face that text messages they wanted to believe proved tampering was occurring were irrelevant to the truth - and as Dan Wetzel shows, this belief is contradicted by Goodell's own ruling and the Wells Report). Goodell's side also admitted to Judge Richard Berman the league never had any actual evidence against Brady, showcasing Goodell's shaky grasp of truth, especially when Judge Berman showed how Goodell's "generally aware" indictment of Brady was in essence a sham. In Spygate he lied about what the rulebook allows regarding sideline videotaping (and as noted above the league's memos falsified what the rulebook said). He lied about the New Orleans Saints players in "Bountygate." He lied about Ben Roethlisberger's rape accusation, which got him a four-game suspension in 2010 and was publicized by Sports Illustrated in a lengthy piece I suspect it regrets ever publishing. There is also reason to believe Goodell is the source of the phony PSI story Chris Mortensen wrote after the AFC Championship Game - which would make him more of a liar in that he himself is the instigator of a smear campaign.
Bizarrely adding to the lie is Mortensen himself stood by the story on an August 27, 2015 interview on an Arizona radio show with Cardinals color analyst Ron Wolfley; Mortensen then added the whopper that the Krafts apologized to him, a claim immediately refuted first by the Dennis & Callahan Show on WEEI then by Jonathan Kraft himself before the Panthers preseason game; adding to the disinformation angle from the league, Mike Florio told WEEI that the league stonewalled his efforts to verify Mortensen's story and that it was part of an effort he called "a prosecution against the Patriots."
That prosecution took a lower turn at the end of October when the league shook down several Patriots employees while examining the visitors locker room for transmitting devices, an old hack accusation made against the Patriots with this specific one made by the Jets that has never been credible (opponent team security controls visitor locker rooms) and which turned up nothing but which raises the question of just how far the NFL will go in its prosecution against the Patriots.
Wetzel notes that players and teams need to be scared because the league has proven it cannot be trusted on anything regarding its conduct. That the league office has been exposed as a liar engaged in a massive smear campaign against its best team - punishment of success on a vulgar scale - showcases that Roger Goodell must be fired.