Why Does Everyone Hate Roger Goodell?

Why Does Everyone Hate Roger Goodell?

The NFL commissioner's actions are finally being called into question
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Over the past few months, it has been difficult to make it an entire day without reading an article on Roger Goodell’s tumultuous tenure as NFL commissioner. However, many fans are content just to follow what happens on the field and nothing else. In order to fully grasp the criticism of Goodell’s handling of Deflategate, we have to look at his mishandling of all the previous NFL scandals.

Shortly after becoming commissioner, Goodell was dedicated to cleaning up the league’s image. This was inspired by the 2006 offseason during which nine Cincinnati Bengals players were arrested. This led to the introduction of the substance abuse policy and the player conduct policy, which allowed the league to dispense whatever punishments they felt were appropriate, regardless of an actual conviction of a crime. Goodell said of the player conduct policy, "It is important that the NFL be represented consistently by outstanding people as well as great football players, coaches, and staff. We hold ourselves to higher standards of responsible conduct because of what it means to be part of the National Football League”. Unfortunately, Goodell took this to mean evidence of actual wrongdoing was optional. If you made the league look bad you were getting punished.

These punishments were often were often incredibly strict to act as a deterrent from future infractions. The severity of these punishments however, rarely matched the severity of the crime. Donte Stallworth was suspended for the entirety of the 2009 season after being convicted of DUI manslaughter. Josh Gordon was also suspended an entire season but for violating the substance abuse program. For arguments sake, let’s just agree with Goodell’s ridiculous take that manslaughter and recreational drug use are on the same level. That would raise the question as to why Jim Irsay's arrest in March for a number of drug charges took six months and public outrage for the NFL to hand out a suspension. In short, every decision Goodell makes is fueled by his greed, hypocrisy and arrogance.

The first event, and one of the many “gate” scandals, to tarnish the Goodell legacy was Spygate. As a reminder, Spygate involved the New England Patriots videotaping the practices of their opponents to gain a competitive advantage. Four days after the allegations, Goodell handed out a $750,000 fine and the loss of a draft pick. Many commended the commissioner for being so swift and strict with levying a punishment against one of the league’s most popular franchises. However, it was later discovered the NFL did not receive the tapes in question until days after the fine was announced. This means Goodell actually handed out a punishment without ever reviewing the key pieces of evidence.

To make matters worse, he then ordered that the tapes be destroyed on sight because the investigation was already over. When allegations later arose that the Patriots may have videotaped the St. Louis Rams to gain an advantage in the Super Bowl, Goodell assured everyone that the tapes were not of the Rams, despite never having actually seen them himself. Of course we should just take Goodell’s word that the Super Bowl wasn’t influenced by a team cheating. He would have no reason to lie about the outcome of the biggest game of the year being affected by a cheating organization led by his very close friend, Bob Kraft. In short, Goodell handed out punishments without a proper investigation and then destroyed evidence to cover it up.

The next “gate” to plague the NFL was the New Orleans Saints’ Bountygate scandal. This scandal occurred in 2012 and involved Saints players and coaches creating a monetary incentive program for injuring opposing players. Goodell, as he did with Spygate, tried to get out in front of the situation by issuing penalties immediately. This time, he issued some of the strictest suspensions in NFL history: two season-long suspensions for player Jonathan Vilma and Coach Sean Payton, and an indefinite suspension for defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams.

In yet another effort to show his supposed control and save face for the league, Goodell ignored evidence and unilaterally made a decision without due process. Several lawsuits and criticism from both the players and the media resulted in former NFL commissioner, Paul Tagliabue stepping in as an independent arbitrator. After hearing the appeal, he decided to vacate the suspensions of all four players involved. Once more, Goodell handed out punishments without a proper investigation and eventually created more negative publicity than the original scandal.

Lastly, we have the Ray Rice scandal--the smoking gun, as it were. The NFL, and mostly Goodell’s, handling of this situation went as poorly as possible. For anyone who has successfully repressed the memories of this awful situation, let's recap them: security camera footage was released showing the Baltimore Ravens’ running back Ray Rice dragging his unconscious fiancé off a casino elevator. Ray Rice met with the commissioner and, after conducting what the NFL deemed an “investigation,” was suspended for two games. Remember that this is the same league that imposes season long suspensions for marijuana use, yet apparently feels domestic violence deserves a fraction of that.

Following the suspension, video footage from inside the elevator revealed what anyone with common sense already knew, Rice assaulted his fiancé and was the reason she was unconscious to begin with. There are already countless articles proving that there is no way the NFL did not see this footage prior to issuing Rice's "punishment." Regardless, after public outrage like the NFL had never seen before, Goodell issued Rice an indefinite suspension, somehow believing it was legal to punish someone twice for the same crime. An appeal found that as no new evidence had been presented, the NFL could not suspended Rice again and the suspension was overturned. And for a third time, Goodell handed out punishments without a proper investigation and eventually generated more negative publicity than the original scandal itself.

Finally, we come to present day, where the sports media is being dominated by PSI levels and destroyed cell phones. Deflategate, for those who have been fortunate to avoid the bombardment of stories the past few months, involves the New England Patriots allegedly deflating footballs to gain a competitive advantage. The NFL leaked, what has now been proven to be, false information about the PSI levels of the balls and suspended Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady. Brady filed an appeal that was heard by, guess who, Roger Goodell. Yes, you read that correctly.

Goodell named himself the arbitrator to hear an appeal on a suspension that he issued--almost as if he wants to flaunt his unbridled power. The suspension was upheld and now Brady has filed a lawsuit against the NFL. While the lawsuit is still ongoing, it has been determined that the NFL does not and has never had any evidence of Brady’s involvement with the possible deflation of the footballs. However, the two sides continue to argue over the semantics of whether Brady interfered with the investigation. To recap, Goodell handed out punishments without a proper investigation, then named himself the impartial arbitrator, upheld his original decision and has made the league a complete laughingstock.

Suffice it to say, there are heaps of reasons for Goodell's constant crucifixion in the media. By attempting to make examples out of single players, he consistently leaves the league in a vulnerable position. He talks out of two sides of his mouth, feigning concern for players' safety regarding substance abuse, yet he's done nothing about the rampant concussion issues. The league can only withstand destructive leadership for so long, especially with the NBA and MLB electing progressive, forward thinking commissioners. The NFL is the country's most popular sport by a wide margin, but it's hard to believe Roger Goodell will be around to much longer to enjoy its success.

Cover Image Credit: David Goldman/AP Photo

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The Coach That Killed My Passion

An open letter to the coach that made me hate a sport I once loved.
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I fell in love with the game in second grade. I lived for every practice and every game. I lived for the countless hours in the gym or my driveway perfecting every shot, every pass and every move I could think of. Every night after dinner, I would go shoot and would not allow myself to go inside until I hit a hundred shots. I had a desire to play, to get better and to be the best basketball player I could possibly be.

I had many coaches between church leagues, rec leagues, personal coaches, basketball camps, middle school and high school. Most of the coaches I had the opportunity to play for had a passion for the game like I did. They inspired me to never stop working. They would tell me I had a natural ability. I took pride in knowing that I worked hard and I took pride in the compliments that I got from my coaches and other parents. I always looked forward to the drills and, believe it or not, I even looked forward to the running. These coaches had a desire to teach, and I had a desire to learn through every good and bad thing that happened during many seasons. Thank you to the coaches that coached and supported me through the years.

SEE ALSO: My Regrets From My Time As A College Softball Player

Along with the good coaches, are a few bad coaches. These are the coaches that focused on favorites instead of the good of the entire team. I had coaches that no matter how hard I worked, it would never be good enough for them. I had coaches that would take insults too far on the court and in the classroom.

I had coaches that killed my passion and love for the game of basketball.

When a passion dies, it is quite possibly the most heartbreaking thing ever. A desire you once had to play every second of the day is gone; it turns into dreading every practice and game. It turns into leaving every game with earphones in so other parents don't talk to you about it. It meant dreading school the next day due to everyone talking about the previous game. My passion was destroyed when a coach looked at me in the eyes and said, "You could go to any other school and start varsity, but you just can't play for me."

SEE ALSO: Should College Athletes Be Limited To One Sport?

Looking back now at the amount of tears shed after practices and games, I just want to say to this coach: Making me feel bad about myself doesn't make me want to play and work hard for you, whether in the classroom or on the court. Telling me that, "Hard work always pays off" and not keeping that word doesn't make me want to work hard either. I spent every minute of the day focusing on making sure you didn't see the pain that I felt, and all of my energy was put towards that fake smile when I said I was OK with how you treated me. There are not words for the feeling I got when parents of teammates asked why I didn't play more or why I got pulled after one mistake; I simply didn't have an answer. The way you made me feel about myself and my ability to play ball made me hate myself; not only did you make me doubt my ability to play, you turned my teammates against me to where they didn't trust my abilities. I would not wish the pain you caused me on my greatest enemy. I pray that one day, eventually, when all of your players quit coming back that you realize that it isn't all about winning records. It’s about the players. You can have winning records without a good coach if you have a good team, but you won’t have a team if you can't treat players with the respect they deserve.

SEE ALSO: To The Little Girl Picking Up A Basketball For The First Time


Cover Image Credit: Equality Charter School

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Taking A Step Back From My Sport Allowed Me To Be Able To Work On These 3 Things

Sometimes you need time away to appreciate the things you love.

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Since the age of nine, horses have been my whole life. Before college, I never had your typical teenage experience. My weekends were spent driving two hours one way to train with a top show barn. My mom and I lived out of our suitcases during the summers, traveling from one show to the next.

The only glimpse of the senior prom I got was through Snapchat's my friends sent of them having the time of their life, while I was going to bed at nine to make sure I had plenty of sleep to compete the next day. I even graduated early to go work for a show barn in Florida for five months. I missed out on a lot, but it never felt that way because of how passionate I was about the sport. I was all in, I loved the thrill of competing, the early mornings, the long days, and most of all: the horses. If you would have told me that I would be here writing about feeling burned out a year ago, I would have laughed.

Going away to college and having to put a bit of pause on my athletic career allowed me to take a step back, breathe, and realize there is so much more than horse shows and blue ribbons to this world. If I could instill a piece of wisdom to my younger self it would be that taking a step back at times is the best thing you can do for yourself. Here is what I learned:

1. Mental health

As many of you know, the pressure of succeeding can put a toll on anyone. I have always been extremely hard on myself, but when I was showing almost every weekend I really started to notice that I would feel upset more than I felt happy. I could win the class but still, come out of the ring criticizing myself over every little thing that went wrong. Because of this, I went into the ring nervous and doubtful. It wasn't fun anymore.

After taking a step back, I have realized that there will always be ups and downs in any sport. I now go into the ring much more confident and I come out smiling- even when it didn't go as planned. There will always be another chance.

2. Physical health

Like any sport, riding takes a toll on your body. After working in Florida for five months, riding up to 12 horses a day, I really felt like something was wrong with my back. However, I pushed through the pain, convincing myself of the quote "no pain no gain". I continued to ignore it, until one day it was unbearable.

I went to the doctor and sure enough, I had herniated my L5 disc. He told us this was completely preventable if I would have rested or taken an hour out of my day to ice and stretch when the pain started. After months of healing and being on a first name basis with my chiropractor, I have realized just how important it is to put my wellness first.

3. Relationships

Taking a step back has also allowed me to develop better relationships with myself, family, and friends. Before, I had such a narrow mind frame and would allow my performance to dictate how I treated people that day. Now after a rough day, I am much better at putting it behind me and not dwelling on it.

I have also realized that I need time to just be "still". Practicing yoga, or meditating for five minutes has made a world of a difference in my relationship with myself (yes, that is a thing).

While packing up to go to school this past August, knowing I would be taking a step back from the sport I love, I felt as though I would never ride as well as I did when it consumed my whole life. But I couldn't have been more wrong. I am now going into the show ring with a clear mind and leaving with a smile on my face.

To my surprise, it has been more than me starting to have fun again- I am riding better, and getting more consistent results than I had before. So, to all those athletes out there that fear to take a step back from their own sport, I am here to tell you that it may just be the best thing you can do for your performance and yourself...

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