The Associated Press is reporting this evening that law enforcement provided the NFL with the now-infamous tape of Ray Rice sucker-punching his fiance five months ago, complete with a thankful NFL exec saying on voicemail: “You’re right. It’s terrible.”
For those who have been calling on the league to fire Commissioner Roger Goodell, this is when they get to take a knee and run out the clock.
If the AP story is accurate, there is just no way for the NFL to maintain any semblance of credibility — no way to “protect the shield” — with Goodell at the helm. Remember, it’s been less than 24 hours since Goodell went on television to say that neither he nor anyone else in the league offices saw the tape. At best, he was duped by an underling. At worst, he lied. Either way, he failed at his job.
This is no longer just about bad judgement. It’s about bad management.
It reminds me a bit of what happened years ago to William Weld, the former Massachusetts governor who was running for the same job in New York. In between, he had spent some time as interim CEO of a for-profit education company that got accused of defrauding the federal government. Weld claimed ignorance rather than corruption. It kept him out of prison, but the predicament also kept him out of the New York governor’s mansion. After all, not many candidates for executive office run on a platform of: “I have no idea what’s going on.”
Goodell is now forced to play the ignoramus, which can’t instill much confidence in the league’s big-money sponsors and partners. More importantly, his continued employment makes his employers (i.e., team owners) look like foolish business-people. Remember, they paid this guy $44 million last year.
NFL owners fire coaches after just one losing season. They cut players after one too many fumbles. They don’t overthink it. They won’t this time either.