It may seem hard to believe, but this August marks the 10-year anniversary of Roger Goodell’s ascension to NFL commissioner.
It’s safe to say that Goodell has made a lot of friends and a lot of enemies over the last decade.
“I’ve called him the conduct commissioner, almost since the moment he came in,” ESPN, SI and MMQB NFL insider Andrew Brandt said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “It’s something that has separated him from other commissioners, separated him from Paul Tagliabue, who he succeeded. Tagliabue certainly didn’t want a bunch of lawless thugs running around, but it just wasn’t that important to him to maintain this high-class standard and to disincline players – even (those) who have not been charged with a crime. That has been Goodell’s MO. It’s something he stood for. And ironically, he may be remembered most for not punishing a conduct issue hard enough.”
That issue, of course, was Ray Rice, who was initially suspended for two games for assaulting his then-fiancee, now-wife in an Atlantic City elevator in February 2014. At the time, the two-game punishment seemed light.
Then the public saw what actually happened in that elevator, and the punishment seemed non-existent.
“I think the whole NFL changed the morning of Sept. 8, 2014, with that video,” Brandt said. “Things were never going to be the same after that. New policies, new hires, many more women in the NFL offices, a different attitude – and I think that somewhat spread to other sports, but it’s just the power of video. I really don’t think that happens without the video.”
After the video became public, many people called for Goodell’s firing or resignation, but neither was a realistic possibility.
“I think there was never a question about that,” Brandt said. “The one thing that could have been in jeopardy – and I guess may still be – is the judge, jury and executioner of what people say about the conduct. Maybe at some point the owners move him out to more of an independent review. But I think that’s something they (may do) in bargaining rather than just (taking) it away from him. That’s how owners think.”