Roger Goodell

Lilly Richards, Sports Reporter


Though the National Football League is a major source of media attention, there is a lot that goes unnoticed behind the scenes. When you hear about Tom Brady deflating footballs and the infamous Ray Rice tape, you picture the athletes carrying out their suspension on the sidelines. What you don’t see, however, is the man behind all the penalties: Roger Goodell.

When the School community was asked how they felt about Goodell, those who recognized the name had very similar opinions. “Roger Goodell is a useless commissioner,” says sophomore and avid football fan Damilare Aguda. “All he does is say ‘the NFL is working on it. Abuse is not tolerated by the NFL. Oops, another player punched his wife, oh darn,’” comments sophomore Dylan Evans. His opinion is most likely related to the way he handled the domestic abuse charges against Ray Rice. When a tape came out of the Baltimore running back dragging the limp body of his fiancé out of an elevator after viciously beating her unconscious, Goodell ruled to suspend him only two games. However, after Patriots quarterback Tom Brady allegedly deflated balls in the 2014 AFC Championship game against the Colts, Brady, who had not inflicted violence upon anyone, received a suspension twice as long as Rice’s.

Another time Goodell mishandled a domestic abuse case was with Giants kicker Josh Brown. After he privately admitted to repeated abuse of his wife in emails and journal entries, calling himself  “God” and her “his slave”,  they suspended him for just one game in 2015. The person the NFL blamed for this short suspension was his wife, Molly Brown, for not coming forward with the evidence. Why would she after the Ray Rice fiasco? This ruling caused vitriolic responses from analysts and players, but Brown’s suspension was only increased in 2017 after Goodell was criticized for suspending Ezekiel Elliott for six games in the 2017 season on counts of repeated domestic violence. His charges were put on and off hold three times.

While I believe that the NFL does not care about the health and safety of player spouses, they also do not care about the health and safety of their own players! After purposefully and repeatedly neglecting concrete evidence of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) which is a dangerous brain disease commonly associated with football players, Goodell tried and failed to hide the evidence from the public. To appease former players, he implemented the useless “concussion protocol,” which allows the medical staff to test for concussions during games. If a player is found to have a concussion, they are prohibited from re-entering the game that day or going to practice the day after. Experts speculate that this protocol will be futile against long term brain damage.

Goodell, a man unpopular amongst fans, players, and coaches, recently signed a five-year $200 million contract on December 6. The contract outraged NFL fans everywhere. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who previously tried to team up with other owners to impeach Goodell, has openly expressed displeasure in this new contract.

Some might ask why a commissioner who gets booed by fans as he walks onto the podium at every NFL Draft would have his contract extended to the 2023 season. The answer is this: Goodell works for the owners and answers to them and them only. With this in mind, consider the 2011 budget reform. Players got crushed as the NFL steered five percent of league revenues away from their income and put a salary cap on rookie contracts. Where does the extra money go? To the very owners that elect him. It is frustrating to see that this is what’s behind the sport that I love and to learn that even on a Sunday morning you cannot escape corruption.