On Sunday, while another domestic violence incident made headlines over the weekend and raised questions about the NFL's treatment of a problem that had reached a critical point four years ago, Commissioner Roger Goodell traveled to East Rutherford, New Jersey, to watch the New York Giants face the Chicago Bear. Bill Simmons, one of his most outspoken critics, also shot at him.
On Sunday, two days after the troubling video of an incident in February between Kansas City Chiefs star Kareem Hunt, was published on TMZ. The league, however, explained only vaguely in a statement how another explosive incident had managed to pass between hidden meshes for months. As with the incident of Ray Rice four years ago, it took the publication of a heartbreaking video by the gossip website to boost action. This time, it was incumbent on the leaders to punish the half-bearer with a quick release, while the NFL took the procedure to place him on the commissioner's exempt list – essentially paid leave – while waiting for his release. A long-awaited investigation for which the league offered a lukewarm defense.
"The NFL investigation began immediately after the February incident. In keeping with traditional investigative practices, the NFL continues to work to fully understand the facts, "said the league's statement. "The ongoing NFL investigation will include new attempts to talk to the complainants involved in the incident. It will include a review of new information made public on Friday – which was not previously available for the NFL – as well as new conversations with all parties involved in the incident. "
Hunt told ESPN's Lisa Salters that he had talked to the Chiefs after the February incident, which took place in a hallway outside his Cleveland Hotel apartment. The team has been keeping up with the league and Hunt has continued to play for great leaders as if nothing has happened. As Ian O'Connor of ESPN wrote, the league's attitude was: "What did they want to know and when did they decide they had no choice but to know more?
For the league and Goodell, the episode must have brought bad memories of the past. The incident of Ray Rice occurred in February 2014; became a controversy when he was suspended this summer; and the 2014 crisis became total when other incidents involving other players surfaced. Simmons called Goodell a "liar" who fell in response to his handling of the domestic violence crisis, resulting in a long suspension by ESPN, the NFL's broadcast partner. In the end, Simmons left ESPN, following more publicized disagreements.
Now at the Ringer, Simmons has again targeted Goodell on Monday morning.
"He has been hiding for about two years. He's not at all a public face of the league, "he said in Bill Simmons's podcast," He's coming to the selection session, he's hugging the players, he's all his work. Like, he claims that he cares about the players. He will show up at the games, he will sit in the suites, he will give an interview orchestrated with great care with someone, no really difficult questions. But I guess my question is this: the commissioner is supposed to be the one who sets the tone for the league. He is the ambassador, it is the link between the fans, the players and the owners, it is the person who tries to make the interest of all.
"And you look at some of the other commissioners; Adam Silver, I think, is the best example. He did a great job with the NBA. . . . But Goodell, not only he do not does his job, he tries to keep a low profile? Which is even stranger. Like, at this point, just do not have the job. Why you to have this work? You do not offer anything. What do you bring to the table? Where was he this weekend?
As a result of the Rice case and other cases in 2014, the NFL has taken steps to increase players' punishments. This September, Goodell admitted to making missteps, took responsibility and said that "the same mistakes can never be repeated".
And even . . . Here we are, at least according to the critics of the league.
"I do not know how he's doing everyday with a sense of professional dignity. He's so bad at that, "said Goodell's Simmons. "They have again and again these problems, these scandals and these problems. They will change the rules at the beginning of the season, you can not hit the quarterback, and then three weeks later, they said to themselves, "Oh, yes, we ruined everything. Let's go back to the old rules. 'The concussion, the CTE thing, the blue tent. All this sounds so hollow.
"My question is: could you do worse? Could you do a worse job? Probably not, "said Simmons. "He does not care about us. He cares about [the owners]. "
"A leader should be able to even lead people who disagree with him," Simmons said later. "Goodell is not trying to lead anyone anymore. I mean, he's trying to lead the owners, and that's it. But he should have come out this weekend and said, "I can not believe it happened again, it's about us, we've put all these policies in place." They really make you hate. Another weekend where we feel guilty for loving the NFL. "
Amy Trask, former CEO of Raiders, now a CBS commentator, proposed a solution as to how the situation should have been handled.
"When you learn of a situation, you mobilize immediately," she told Jim Rome. "You bring together the appropriate staff, which includes your security personnel. All teams have full-time security staff. If the incident occurred in the place where the team is based, you contact your contacts in the local law enforcement and, where appropriate, in a hotel, in this hotel.
"If, as was the case here, the incident occurs elsewhere [in Cleveland]but there is a team located there, I would pick up the phone and call my counterpart or the owner of this team to ask him to make the presentation of our staff to local law enforcement and hotel staff of this city. "
The age of mobile phones and security cameras means that there is video everywhere, which the NFL did not seem to understand.
"You have to assume on this day and that there will be a video recording of everything, and I would look like Nancy Drew to find this video recording," Trask said. "Historically, league teams were not willing to do what outlets like TMZ were willing to do. [paying money] get a video. They feel under ethical or other constraints, and maybe it's time to rethink that – do nothing illegal, but do more to collect videos. "
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