Back Against The Wall: Should Goodell Resign?

In 2014 Roger Goodell was faced with adversity for the first time in his tenure as NFL commissioner. On February 15th of that year, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was arrested for assaulting his then-fiancee Janay Palmer. The act spearheaded a long Summer for Goodell who felt the heat of the media and fans who would not tolerate the behavior displayed by Rice.

After an extensive fact-checking process deployed by the NFL, Rice was suspended for two games. This provoked an outrage as the message Goodell was sending was that domestic violence only warrants a slap on the wrist for a penalty. In September of 2014 footage was released by TMZ that clearly recorded Ray Rice knocking Palmer out unconscious and dragging her limp body out of a casino.

Goodell’s back was against the wall and was forced to make a difficult decision. He suspended Ray Rice indefinitely the day of the tape being released. He, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, and the rest of the NFL denied ever seeing such a tape, but it would come out per The Associated Press that an anonymous law enforcement official claimed the NFL was sent the tape in April.

This was the first time that Roger Goodell’s character and integrity were put into question; however, it would not be the last.

Goodell’s most recent controversy puts him into a precarious position where he is torn between business and giving his players free will of expression in regards to politically sensitive topics. Protecting the image of the NFL is one of Goodell’s most important duties as commissioner. He has woefully attempted to do this at every roadblock he has come across, including his suspension of Rice immediately after the tape of the physical act of violence was released to the public.

Arguably just as vital to the role of commissioner, Goodell is directly responsible for making the NFL money. After all, it is a business and one that has seen a substantial increase in revenue since 2006 when Goodell took over for Paul Tagliabue. Since he took the reigns of commish, Goodell’s salary (which is a directly correlated with revenue) has jumped from under 10 million in 2006 to nearly 34.1 million dollars a year in 2014 when the NFL’s revenue was 11 billion.

Now in 2017 Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder and Houston Texans owner Bob McNair have all questioned Goodell’s methods. As players have been peacefully protesting all season long by kneeling during the National Anthem, Goodell has supported them every way claiming that they have a right to express themselves as humans. President Donald Trump has spoken openly about his disagreement with such an act which has lit a fire under Goodell once again.

In a recent owners meeting, Snyder representing the home team for the Nation’s Capital proclaimed that his market does not condone the acts that the players are performing during a time in which the flag should be honored. Jones sided with Snyder claiming that the NFL is losing money because of the protests as ratings have been exponentially decreasing within the past month.

This was highlighted on Sunday with the World Series beating out Sunday Night Football in ratings for the second year in a row, a category in which the NFL has dominated in the years prior. It was at this same owners meeting that McNair mumbled out the phrase that has put the entire NFL on the spot when he claimed that “inmates” should never run the prison. This was directly aimed at the players who kneel during the National Anthem, or so it was thought to be. Now, McNair is saying that the “inmate” in this context was Roger Goodell.

So what do we make of all this? We have a man who has made millions of dollars for the NFL, but his character has been questioned. While he has helped his business increase revenue over the years, he now has the President (who through his instinct as a businessman himself must attack Goodell and the NFL, regardless of being politically correct) and owners of NFL teams coming for his head.

Jones, along with other owners,  have been vocal about not extending Goodell’s occupancy as commissioner. Even if Goodell’s extension upholds, it seems that the inevitable will always appear. He will be scrutinized by the media and fans for every action players make that can be deemed as controversial. He will be attacked by the owners when these scenarios result in a hit financially for the money making monster that is the NFL.

In a lose/lose situation, while the 11-year commissioner would have to walk away from a huge paycheck, it may save himself the trouble to step down now before the unbeatable force of the POTUS, the owners, the fans, and the media tarnish his legacy even further.