Is NFL Commissioner Fit To Hold the Most Important Position in the NFL?
This is a question which must be addressed by the "powers that be," and it must be answered promptly. I see the leadership of the NFL since Roger Goodell took the reigns as problematic at best. His punishments have been profoundly inconsistent, at least in my humble opinion.
It was his reaction to the Spygate scandal which first brought this to my attention. In my book, titled New England Bandwagon Nation, I dedicate Chapter six to this very subject.
I chronicle the entire time-line of events which took place beginning with the NFL's mandate which was issued to all 32 NFL teams on Sept. 6, 2007, warning them that this practice would not be tolerated "in any way shape or form."
Just three days later, Bill Belichick felt it necessary to flaunt this warning in the commissioner's face. It is well documented the Pats were openly practicing this "tactic" if you will in their 2007 opener on Sept. 9, 2007 in a game versus the Jets at the Meadowlands.
At this point in time, all evidence was confiscated by the NFL and Belichick insisted that no other such tapes existed. At this time, Belichick privately informed commissioner Goodell he had employed this tactic since he had become the Patriots head coach in prior to the 2000 NFL season.
The evidence was promptly destroyed by the NFL. Bill Belichick was immediately fined $750,000 and team owner Robert Kraft $250,000, case closed.
Not so fast, my friends.
At the very least, a suspension for compromising the integrity of the National Football League was surely in order. What commissioner Goodell was hoping would happen was that Joe public NFL fans like you and me would never learn was that the original batch of evidence was destroyed in of all places...Foxborough, MA! What's up with that?
Wouldn't NFL offices in New York have been a much more appropriate place for that deed to have taken place? I'm just saying.
Now we get to the week prior to Super Bowl XLII which is when former Patriots assistant Matt Walsh came forward with eight more tapes which Bill Belichick had previously stated did not exist.
According to the Boston Herald's John Tomase, Walsh claimed this included a tape of the Rams walk-through practice which was held the day prior to the Pats winning their first of three Super Bowls.
Now, commissioner Goodell felt it was time to make public that Belichick had informed him privately back in September that this had been taking place since the 200 NFL season.
Please bear in mind the fact that the 2001 St. Louis Rams, who had earned the moniker "Greatest show on turf" averaged 32.9 points per game that season. That Super Bowl was played in the Superdome...on turf. And the Pats held them to just three points until late in the fourth quarter. Hmmm.
Now mind you immediately following Super Bowl XLII the NFL engaged in three-and-a-half months of talks which included Matt Walsh, the NFL powers-that-be, and a whole bunch of fancy, high-priced lawyers.
And wouldn't you know that after these talks, Matt Walsh and John Tomase flipped one-hundred and eighty degrees on their earlier contentions.
You want to talk about fall guys! It kind of brings new meaning to the term for me anyway. An NFL public relations nightmare was averted by the commissioner...Phew!
Now, if I were a business owner in the vicinity of the old RCA dome, Heinz Field, or any other AFC stadium who may have been cheated out of possible income by the New England Patriots, I would want to see jail time as part of the punishment.
Anyone who states that the NFL is "just a game" is a fool. It is one of the biggest, most profitable businesses in the entire world. It is vital that the outcome of each and every game that is played be on the "up and up."
That is why Congress had every right to get involved in this matter. To protect us from unethical business practices is a large part of the reason this segment of our American Government exists.
I delve into this subject much deeper in my book. Now, I'd like to touch on some of the suspensions that were doled out by Mr. Goodell since he has taken over the most important job in the entire NFL.
I'll leave Mike Sick alone in this article, as that will be one in of itself. As a Viking fan and native New Englander, I have taken much "heat" for voicing my concerns on the Spygate issue.
A lot of that has been generated since the Vikings Williams boys Pat and Kevin, have been suspended for ingesting a substance called Star Caps which contains an ingredient which is known to mask drug tests.
First of all, these are not "problem children." Nothing remotely about these two would indicate they are trouble-making punks. The product is a diuretic, which is legal to take in the NFL.
The aspect of this incident which many don't realize is that these guys went through all of the proper channels. They checked the banned list of substances offered by the NFL. Star Caps was not found on the list.
These two players, as well as others in the same exact situation were suspended for four games by commissioner Goodell. It was well-known by the NFL as early as the 2006 season that Star Caps contained this banned substance, but failed to add it to the list!
How could this possibly be the Williams's fault?
If anyone deserved to be reprimanded it should have been the person or persons responsible for maintaining that list. Make any sense? Of course not! That would mean the NFL would have to admit fault. Thankfully, a Minnesota Supreme Court Judge saw through all of this nonsense and blocked the two suspensions.
Now take a look at the Jacksonville Jaguars Matt Jones. He was caught by police in a vehicle with two other individuals who were using cocaine. Jones insisted he was not using the drugs and actually passed a drug test.
It is well-known that cocaine only stays in one's system for up to 72 hours. Commissioner Goodell saw fit to only suspend Jones for three games! Does it really make any sense at all to anyone to impose suspensions of only three games to Jones and four to the Williams. Not to me it doesn't.
It is time to get to one glaring example which profoundly backs my contention of Roger Goodell not being fit to oversee the professional sports league to which I have dedicated 40 years of my life to following.
Nick Kaczur is a New England Patriots' offensive lineman who was caught red-handed in his car with a trunk full of prescription drugs by police. I could be wrong, but the last time I checked, it is impossible to legally purchase bulk quantities of prescription drugs at any of our retail warehouse discount chains.
If this is possible, please inform me when this became a reality.
Is it at all fathomable that Mr. Goodell saw no need what-so-ever to suspend Mr. Kaczur? This non-action kind of makes me want to gouge my own eyes out.
And wouldn't you know, this was another serious incident involving the New England Patriots, which resulted in no suspensions being handed down by commissioner Goodell. Nice to hold a prominent position on the NFL's competition committee, eh Mr. Kraft?
I believe it is imperative to the future integrity of the NFL to promptly find a new person to oversee the most critical of matters pertaining to the league. Mr. Goodell is obviously no Paul Tagliabue or Pete Rozelle.
Ken Knight is an aspiring writer and author of a book released in Aug. 2008 Titled "New England Bandwagon Nation". Ken is also a contributing writer on sportslore.com.
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