Roger Goodell, who has been harshly criticized for his handling of crime controversies involving Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice, sought to head off another potential maelstrom by meeting last Thursday with the prospective number-one pick in the upcoming NFL draft Jameis Winston.
The Florida State quarterback’s notorious history includes an accusation of sexual assault, shoplifting, and screaming obscenities in a crowded FSU student union, which precipitated a one-game suspension this past fall.
Sports Illustrated reports that Greg Genske, one of Winston’s agents, said Winston requested the meeting in January. The meeting, which lasted between five and six hours, included speaking with NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent and league officials.
One NFL executive told SI, “He went out of his way to make a good impression, and to show that he understood what was going to be expected of him in the NFL.”
Goodell has been panned by various critics. Senator John McCain, commenting on the controversies surrounding the NFL, said, “I think these controversies would have gone away a lot easier if they had approached them from, ‘How are the American people going to react to seeing the video of a professional football player knock out his wife?’ If I were them, I would review my whole PR scheme.” He noted after Deflategate, “One thing we do in politics when there’s an issue that arises, smart politicians have a rapid-response team. What is the reaction of Mr. Goodell in this latest one? He’s MIA as far as I can tell.”
A women’s advocacy group flew banners from airplanes over stadiums in Cleveland, East Rutherford, New Jersey, and San Francisco calling for Goodell to resign.