NFL commissioner should be held accountable
In the multi-billion dollar enterprise that is the NFL, morals are defined not by right and wrong, but by the dollar signs that cement its legacy. The supremacy that it holds might be to akin to that of the Titanic in that it is considered “too big to fail.” The late afternoons of guzzling down beverages of choice, dunking nachos and adjusting your fantasy football roster while watching your favorite players duke it out gladiator style has evolved past being a culture into more of a necessity. Even if the love of your life has abandoned you, or even if the prospects of getting a job in the economy have dwindled into oblivion, you can always find solace in the fact that your favorite team’s banners will shine brightly that upcoming Sunday morning. It is an all-encompassing sport that has captured the heart of America and the man that stands before the glorious empire might in fact be the most powerful man in all of sports.
However, with looming allegations of the NFL’s incompetence in domestic abuse, the question remains: Can the wealthiest and most influential billionaire-owners spearheaded by a for-profit commissioner evade the public manifestations that call for their heads? The answer to that question might just revolutionize our perception of sports forever.
In the recent Ray Rice domestic violence incident, there have been outcries that the original handed down suspension of two games, not only was insult to the intelligence of the American people, but a case of the NFL’s blatant and outdated policy. It was outrageous, sure, considering the once yearlong suspension to Josh Gordon for testing positive for marijuana. However, there has since been great efforts to undo both wrongs with the new polices implemented that give harsher penalties to domestic violence. The primary reasons for the change was not the NFL’s apparent newfound respect for women, but to save face and correct a mistake.
In light of the newer evidence from TMZ’s video of Rice physically knocking out his fiancée, many acclaimed figures have called for the resignation of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. And why shouldn’t they?
Still, it must be noted that the NFL is a 2,560-man league, not including coaches and assistants involved, with the average crime rates significantly below national average for men around in the 25-to-29 age range. In fact, the overall arrest rate of the NFL seems to be just 13 percent of the national average.
Goodell, while a highly influential figure, cannot be held responsible for every individual in the league — a player’s crimes are not a reflection of his ability as a commissioner. Holding lower crime rates than the national average, however, is an indicator that the methodology of punishment overall has been successful, even though these notable cases receive a lot of public criticism.
Also, for a majority of cases, there is a system in place to determine the number of games and monetary value of punishment a player receives beforehand so the actual punishment in many cases may be engraved in stone. This does not excuse the fact that a highly disproportionate amount of the offenses are cases of domestic violence, with a relative arrest rate of 55.4 percent of the national average. While the new standard implemented should change the overall mindset and rate of the crimes committed with the awareness of the new policy, it did suggest previous negligence on Goodell’s part.
The commissioner of the NFL, due the influence that he holds, should be held to a higher standard than most as is the case with leaders of other industries with substantial power. While we may criticize Goodell for his role as a commissioner for a myriad of factors, it must be understood that the NFL is a business. Like all businesses, while we may fault it for many reasons, the bottom line is the entertainment quality for consumers and profit margins for the owners. This does not excuse the moral implications of covering up the Rice video, but we must heed caution at calling for the man’s job just because we don’t like him — being one of the most powerful men in sports is no easy feat. However, too many getaways with altering the game of football without public consent may be Goodell’s downfall, because if the cover-up conspiracies hold true, the biggest resignation in sports history may be in NFL’s future.
Sabri Rafi is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in political science.