Amid the most trying time of Goodell's tenure, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones indicated Sunday that the commissioner has unanimous support from all owners.
Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported what Jones had to say in assessing how Goodell has fared during his time in charge of the league office:
Roger has done an amazing job for the game and that’s where I’m going with this. At the end of the day, there are a lot of issues, but it’s important to keep our eye on the game, the integrity of the game and what we want the game to be. The game itself is about making mistakes and understanding being contrite and go out and fix them and do better and then come back and have some success. We’re having those kinds of days.
That’s not in any way to not say and express the seriousness that’s involved with domestic abuse. That’s terrible and serious and I’ll ensure you that everyone is uniform in doing what we can do to use the strengths of the NFL to influence that, and we can. I think our commissioner has said that and I know he has 100 percent of support—it’s my understanding 100 percent of support—of all the owners.
The Associated Press' Rob Maaddi reported that the NFL had received video footage of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching and knocking his fiancee unconscious in April.
The league has said it didn't see the tape until this past Monday. When footage of the altercation surfaced from TMZ Sports (NSFW, graphic footage), the Ravens terminated Rice's contract, and the NFL punished him with an indefinite suspension.
Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman talked to one owner who said that if the AP report were true, Goodell would lose support from all owners. Freeman weighed in on the potential consequences if that shocking revelation were to be unearthed and acknowledged:
I do not think Goodell will be fired. I can't find a team official or anyone else who thinks that, either. But numerous sources believe that if somehow this AP story is accurate, someone underneath Goodell could be fired (translation: sacrificed), and Goodell himself could end up writing a big, fat fine check.
Bill Ritter of WABC-TV in New York City weighed in on Goodell's future:
Rice's saga doesn't appear to be finished just yet. The Pro Bowler will reportedly appeal his suspension on Monday, according to ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio.
Before the video of Rice's horrifying episode was made public, his suspension was only two games and he was still under contract in Baltimore. The drastic turn of events brought about over the past week has now put the future of his career in jeopardy.
Based on the conflicting comments that one owner made in private to Freeman and the public endorsement Jones gave Goodell, it's hard to say what direction the NFL's leadership will go in the near future.
Goodell presides over player discipline and has autonomous power in doing so, leaving him accountable when a ruling goes against the grain of public opinion. It helps Goodell to have a powerful owner like Jones in his corner on record, but the commissioner has a long way to go to make amends with many who soured on his handling of the Rice scandal.
The longer Rice's situation remains in the public eye, the worse it looks for the league and Goodell. Until clarity is had with regard to what the NFL knew about the Rice tape, there's no definitive way of knowing whether the owners will side with Goodell in the end or not.