Two years ago, I wrote this post about the horrendous handling of a major crisis issue just weeks before the start of the 2014 NFL season.
Sitting here just weeks before the 2016 season, I find myself writing another post about another major crisis issue and the man at the center of it all – NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Since becoming the NFL commissioner in 2006, the brand Goodell clearly wishes to portray is of that of a “tough disciplinarian” who will “protect the shield” above all else.
But, the brand one wants and the brand one actually is are not always the same thing.
Especially with the two latest moves he’s made. (And that isn’t counting the seemingly never-ending Tom Brady debacle).
For those who don’t divide their days listening to sports talk radio and Howard Stern, like moi, allow me to break them down…
In December 2015, Al Jazeera America alleged that NFL golden boy Peyton Manning had HGH, a performance-enhancing drug that is banned by the NFL for use by players, shipped to his home under his wife’s name. Manning called the report garbage and – according to the NFL – was found not guilty of any wrong-doing, paving the way for his retirement celebration. The move to not look further into the story by Goodell was a bit odd given all the time he spent on fighting players caught using marijuana and (allegedly) deflating footballs.
But here is the thing – Al Jazeera also claimed steroid use by Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, Green Bay Packers linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers and former Packers linebacker Mike Neal.
Now, Goodell is singing a new tune, giving the players until August 25 to comply with the league’s requests for interviews or face suspension.
As Scott in our office always says, the rules are the rules.
However, in this case, Goodell is simply making the rules up as he goes, and they are clearly not the same for everyone.
And this isn’t the only time he’s done something like this. Going back to 2014, Ray Rice was suspended for a few games for domestic violence (not condoning, just stating the facts), until video surfaced of the attack. Given the video footage, his suspension – already given and accepted by Rice wholeheartedly – was rescinded and changed to the entire season. Juxtapose this with fellow NFL player Greg Hardy doing this (and allegedly much worse many times over), but not getting caught on video by TMZ. His suspension was initially 10 games, but got REDUCED to just four games!
When all is said and done, what will Goodell’s brand and legacy be? That of a strict disciplinarian? That of a hypocrite? That of someone who exploits his power when it suits him?
One thing is for sure – former commissioner Paul Tagliabue is reaping media love and positive public relations like never before as a result. So much so, in fact, he was named a NFL 2017 Hall of Fame finalist.