NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell unveiled a new talking point in response to public scrutiny over the league’s handling of Josh Brown’s domestic violence case. The theory goes something like this: the public doesn’t possess the knowledge to understand our brilliance.
Roger Goodell said to the BBC, when asked why the league punishes some for touchdown celebrations, yet only metes out one-game punishments for domestic violence incidents: “I understand the public’s misunderstanding of those things and how that can be difficult for them to understand how we get to those positions. But those are things that we have to do. I think it’s a lot deeper and a lot more complicated than it appears but it gets a lot of focus.”
Really? The public misunderstands how the league gets “to those positions?” The league proudly touted their new post-Ray Rice domestic violence policy in 2014. That policy stated, in no uncertain terms, that an NFL player would receive a six game suspension for their first DV offense.
If that position forms the basis for the NFL’s treatment of players guilty of domestic violence, then why was Brown not punished according to the league’s own policy? The league sounds a lot more confused than the fans.
Goodell attempted to wriggle out of this when asked how the league handled the Josh Brown case:
Well you have to go and get the facts. We have asked repeatedly for those facts and the information that’s been gathered by law enforcement both orally and in writing. And we weren’t able to get access to it. So you have to make decisions on whatever information you have. We take this issue incredibly seriously. This is something we’ve been working on with policy changes, to educating our players to make sure they understand how they deal with issues with their family, give them resources to be able to deal with this. But when it happens we’re not going to tolerate it. So we have some new information here, we’ll evaluate that in the context of our policy and we’ll take it from there.
Ah, the old “we didn’t have all the facts” routine. If the NFL didn’t have all the facts then why did they suspend Josh Brown for the season opener in the first place? They suspended him because they knew he had committed some kind of act of violence against his wife. They may not have known the extreme and gory details of the abuse, but they clearly knew there was abuse.
However, let’s give the NFL the benefit of the doubt for a second. Let’s assume the league had information that suggested Brown’s case should only merit a one-game suspension instead of six. Why not say that? Why not tell people, “Hey, we know we have a rule that says this infraction merits a six game suspension. But this one’s different and here’s why…”
Boom. Problem solved, no more mystery. Instead, because the league has all the openness and transparency of the Putin regime, the NFL took the same vow of silence it normally takes, which leaves them open to the charges of incompetence, lack of awareness, and moral emptiness that they so richly deserve.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter: @themightygwinn