Ray Donovan. Olivia Pope. Roger Goodell.
What does the NFL commissioner have in common with these fictional TV characters? They’re all fixers. Well-paid individuals who make great livings by cleaning up their employers’ messes.
On Tuesday, the man who makes somewhere around $40 million per year and serves as the hand of the league’s 32 owners stepped up to the podium to do what he does best — lie.
Fib No. 1:
“I do think he’s been held accountable,” Goodell said of Washington owner Daniel Snyder. “More importantly, steps were put in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
So, we’re supposed to believe that Snyder — who refused to change the racist name of his team for years and allowed sexual harassment misconduct toward female staff members, media members, and cheerleaders for God knows how long — has been “held accountable” all because he got hit with a $10 million fine and let his wife run the team for a few months?
Roger, stop it.
Fib No. 2:
Goodell then told the world that the findings from the investigation into the Washington Football Team — which led to the emails that got Jon Gruden fired — will not be made public.
Because he knows the smoking gun is in there. So, to cover it up, Goodell claimed that the people who spoke up asked for anonymity — even though their lawyer is on social media saying otherwise.
“We’re very conscious of making sure we’re protecting those who came forward,” said Goodell at Tuesday’s owner’s meeting.” That was a very high priority.”
Fib No. 3:
Goodell wants people to believe that the most powerful sports league on the planet doesn’t have enough information to make a decision on Deshaun Watson and the 22 civil lawsuits against him.
“Obviously, the police have been investigating, and we don’t have access to all of that information at this point in time,” Goodell said. “We pride ourselves on not interfering in that and in being as cooperative as we can in order to get all the facts. I think that process is still ongoing.”
This is the same league that once had a United States Senator trying to open a federal investigation into Spygate, but yet, Goodell is trying to sell us on the idea that the NFL isn’t powerful enough to get a few peeks at the files from the police in Houston?
It’s beyond disrespectful how stupid Goodell believes NFL fans are. But, it’s not like he doesn’t have a good reason — the league’s ratings are dominating.
Labeling Goodell as a liar isn’t anything new or malicious, as it comes with the territory. However, Goodell does it in a way that barely causes us to flinch anymore, as he’s mastered his craft.
I know. I’ve seen him do it.
In 2018, I was at the press conference for the owner’s meetings in Atlanta when he revealed the league’s short-lived anthem policy which gave players the option of staying in the locker room or having their teams fined if they kneeled or raised a first in peaceful protest against police brutality.
“We want people to be respectful of the national anthem,” Goodell said at the time. “We want people to stand … and to make sure they treat this moment in a respectful fashion.
“If anyone is on the field and is disrespectful to the anthem or the flag, there will be a fine from the league against that team.”
Goodell forgot to mention that the military was paying the league millions for “patriotic acts” like standing for the anthem.
In 2019, I was there when Goodell held his annual Super Bowl press conference in which he lied about the success and failure of the Rooney Rule and Colin Kaepernick.
“I think if a team decides that if Colin Kaepernick or any other player can help that team win, that’s what they’ll do,” he said in January of that year.
By August, the NFL had announced a deal with Roc Nation. It was the same day Jay-Z infamously said, “I think we’ve moved past kneeling.”
Eight months later, Goodell was apologizing.
“I wish we had listened earlier, Kap, to what you were kneeling about and what you were trying to bring attention to,” he said.
As you can see, whenever the owners want something to go away, they send their highly-compensated whipping boy to a podium to lie for them. This is why it was so head-scratching four years ago when Jerry Jones was trying to get Goodell removed, and was even threatening to sue the league over Goodell’s contract extension as he felt they were paying him too much, and ultimately granting him too much power.
A handful of scandals later, and that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore as Jones is very pleased with his servant.