New Baseball Boss Swings and Misses in First Major Interview

Manfred
Manfred
New MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is suggesting the game does away with significant defensive shifts. Not the best way to start his tenure in my opinion.

Commissioners of professional sports in America do not have easy jobs. While being the leader of the National Football League would mean more to me than being President of the United States, I realize it can be a daunting and thankless job.

I believe that the best way for any new commissioner to come into his or her new assignment is to do so quietly and without much fanfare.

While National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver certainly could have never expected he’d be facing the crisis he did with LA Clippers’ former owner Donald Sterling, he did so with grace and suitable forcefulness.

New Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has decided that coming into his new post quietly was apparently not an option.

In a recent interview, Manfred expressed his willingness to ban the practice of defensive over-shifting. This is what is done to combat heavy pull-hitters in the game. My initial was one of curiosity but the more I thought about it the more I couldn’t help but wonder “what in the wide world of sports would motivate this move?”

Goodell
It would be a good idea for Manfred to pay attention to the messes Goodell has found himself in.

Well, let’s look to the current sport in the country that holds the title of “America’s Pastime” and that would be the National Football League. If you didn’t think Commissioner Roger Goodell was all about money then you must have missed former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue’s comments. But that isn’t what I’m getting at.

Goodell’s affect on the NFL has been one of increasing revenue and for him, that’s meant increasing offensive output. More scoring appeals to average fans and it appeals even more to those millions who participate in fantasy football.

Now go back to Manfred’s proposal to eliminate the shift in professional baseball. If he gets his wish and players are forced to cover “zones” on the diamond, that means pull hitters will gain a decided advantage in hitting. More hitting means more offense which in turn means more runs. And who doesn’t love more scoring right?

If you aren’t following here’s the example. Batter A is a dead-pull hitter and is right-handed. Many baseball managers will put the “shift on” sliding the third baseman to the fair/foul line… Will slide the shortstop towards the third baseman’s natural position… Will slide the second baseman to the left of second base, or more towards the shortstop’s natural spot.

The first baseman therefore is the only infielder to the right side of the diamond. The outfield will naturally shift as well meaning the left fielder goes to the line, the center fielder moves well left and the right fielder moves towards center.

Commons sense tells the manager that if Batter A is a dead-pull guy and you’ve got all of your defense over there to defend him, then he’ll have the pitcher work to get the ball hit there.

Now imagine shifts like this aren’t allowed. A dead-pull hitter now has just the third baseman, shortstop and left fielder to contend with while in a shift, he has the center fielder and the second baseman added to the equation.

Is Manfred’s suggestion the worst idea in the world? Now, it probably isn’t in the grand scheme of things but this is not the way I would imagine he wanted to put his first stamp as commissioner on the game. If Manfred can learn anything, perhaps he needs to keep an eye on those NFL offices in New York City where they can’t do anything right.

Baseball has a prime opportunity to regain some favor with basic fans but drastically altering the defense of baseball isn’t a good way to do it.

Things Take an Interesting Turn in “Deflate-Gate”

Goodell
Goodell
Robert Kraft entertained Roger Goodell at his home the night before the AFC Title Game.

I can’t help but laugh at all of this but at the same time the issue surrounding deflated balls is much more serious than perhaps we really believe. Regardless, here’s the latest news and more importantly, here is my take on what’s about to go down.

The National Football League has zeroed it’s investigation on a Patriots’ locker room attendant. According to several sources, the NFL has spoken with the attendant and also claims to have video of him as well. At some point, he took the balls from the officials’ locker room and on to another location.

Ted Wells, the man hired by the NFL to investigate this, claims even with this new development the investigation is likely to take several weeks. I’m all for being thorough but if this alleged video is a smoking gun of sorts then why wait?

So now that we know this, where is this headed? Here’s my take.

Goodell
While all 32 owners are Roger Goodell's bosses, it's become clear that no one has more control over him than Bob Kraft.

First of all, Head Coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady will both come through this as clean as a whistle. I say this because it’s clear that of the 32 NFL owners, no one has the ear of Roger Goodell more than Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft. Don’t think so? Take a look at this article from GQ Magazine.

Should they really skate on this issue though? Of course not, but you know as well as I do how this thing will unfold. The attendant in question will be pressured to give up the golden goose. Investigators will do their darn-best to make this guy tell them who ordered him to release air from those balls.

Common sense will tell all of us that Tom Brady is the man who asks this attendant to manipulate the game balls and has likely done so for several years. Whether or not this is something that Brady requests each week or just when there is precipitation is unclear, but ask yourself this question?

Do you really believe a New England Patriots’ locker room attendant would, on his own accord, decide to deflate 11 of 12 game balls for the AFC Championship Game?

What would his motivation be? Would he even know that releasing air from the ball would make it easier to throw, catch and hang on to? Tell me, what would this guy possibly have to gain?

The only explanation for what went on is the simplest one out there. Tom Brady told his teammates in a meeting last week that he “likes the ball a certain way.” Why would he tell them this after spending 30 minutes in front of the press denying having anything to do with the issue?

I believe it highly unlikely that his attendant will give Brady up. My guess is that he will fall on his sword and has already been provided with an excuse for tampering with the balls as well a nice financial settlement as he gets “fired” for his illegal behavior.

What about Belichick you ask? Belichick will do just as he did during his impromptu presser the other day. He’ll deny any knowledge of the arrangement the attendant and Brady allegedly had and he’ll ride off into the sunset with his three or perhaps four Super Bowl titles.

I guarantee you that Roger Goodell and Robert Kraft have already spoken about how to proceed now that the attendant has been discovered. Kraft and the majority of other owners know Goodell makes them money and that’s all that matters.

Random Thoughts on the NFL for a Thursday in December

Snyder
Snyder
Perhaps Daniel Snyder needs to look in the mirror if he wants to find the problem in Washington.

I sat down to write and discovered that there were a number of things on my radar and couldn’t decide on just one. Therefore you’re getting my thoughts on several issues related to the National Football League.

SI.com’s veteran NFL writer Don Banks finally became the first true writer to say what we mere little folk have been saying for a long time; the problem in Washington is Daniel Snyder. When he took over in 1999, the Redskins had gone through a period of great success that including winning seasons and Super Bowl wins. Snyder has now been through eight head coaches and his team just set a dubious mark by losing double-digit games in five of the last six seasons.

Banks calls Snyder “the one constant” throughout this period of futility and he’s absolutely right. While some suggest owners like the Rooney Family in Pittsburgh can often be “too hands off” Snyder has proven to have his hands in everything and nothing he does seems to work. Perhaps it’s time to let football men do their jobs rather than be micro-managed by Snyder.

If couldn’t get any worse with Head Coach Jay Gruden, the defense and Robert Griffin III, yesterday there was a fight at practice between two teammates. Good times in the beltway once again…

New Discipline Policy Already Off to a Bad Start

Yesterday the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the new player discipline policy. This was needed because of the mess surrounding the Ray Rice domestic violence situation. The National Football League Players Association immediately issued a statement saying the following;

Our union has not been offered the professional courtesy of seeing the NFL’s new personal conduct policy before it hit the presses. Their unilateral decision and conduct today is the only thing that has been consistent over the past few months.

The NFL claims it involved the NFLPA each step of the way so again, we have someone not telling the truth which sums up this entirely ridiculous situation. Things got worse for Goodell Wednesday when transcripts of the Ray Rice Disciplinary Hearing were released. TO say that there are “inconsistencies” with Goodell’s comments would be a gross understatement. As they say, stay tuned.

Manziel
The Johnny Football Era officially begins Sunday in Cleveland.

Johnny Football is Coming

We saw a brief glimpse of former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel in Buffalo nearly two weeks ago but that was a dress rehearsal. The real thing is about to go down this week at home when the Browns host the in-state rival Bengals.

While Head Coach Mike Pettine will have to answer all kinds of questions related to this decision, I feel it’s the right one. The Browns have slipped to 7-6 and are now looking up at everyone in the AFC North. Brian Hoyer has struggled and even though I don’t think he’s received a lot of help from his pass catchers, the move had to be made.

Besides the fact that Hoyer has been less then average recently, Pettine feels this is the right time because the Browns are at home but I can also see where this could backfire. If Manziel struggles early, the home fans in Cleveland aren’t exactly known for patience and they could get on him especially if the team is trailing. Playing on the road can sometimes galvanize a team in times like this but I could be wrong too.

The move also sets into motion the placing of Manziel at the QB position for years to come. Should he play well in the final three games, it’s unlikely the team would sign Brian Hoyer to another contract. One way or another, the Johnny Football era has begun.

Rice Wins Appeal; Could Be Bad News for Goodell

Rice
Rice
Ray Rice can play football again but we know it won't be with the Ravens. Will it be anyone for that matter?

In a relatively unsurprising decision, Ray Rice has been reinstated and can be signed by any team. Former U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones heard the appeal and released the decision yesterday. The following are excepts from her statement:

“In this arbitration, the NFL argues that Commissioner Goodell was misled when he disciplined Rice the first time. Because, after careful consideration of all of the evidence, I am not persuaded that Rice lied to, or misled, the NFL at his June interview, I find that the indefinite suspension was an abuse of discretion and must be vacated,” Jones’ decision stated.

“I find that the NFLPA carried its burden of showing that Rice did not mislead the Commissioner at the June 16th meeting, and therefore, that the imposition of a second suspension based on the same incident and the same known facts about the incident, was arbitrary,” Jones also wrote.

“The Commissioner needed to be fair and consistent in his imposition of discipline.”

Jones went on to essentially say that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell abused power and was reckless in his laying of it. This is exactly what the NFLPA has been arguing all along not just in this case but in several other disciplinary situations.

Goodell
Perhaps the take-down by US District Judge Barbara S. Jones will finally force Goodell to give up some power.

Goodell was brought in as commissioner with great fanfare because he was going to be the guy to “clean up the league.” We can point to some areas where he has but largely we can point to case upon case where his subjective and biased rule has been the norm.

The decision by Jones to reinstate Rice is the correct one. The league office has already accepted it; knowing that it’s binding there isn’t much area for recourse. This won’t end with Jones’ decision however.

What Jones implies in her findings is that someone isn’t telling the truth and that “someone” has to be Goodell and the NFL. Rice and his now-wife Janay have stuck to their story since the beginning and, according to Jones, it has been the NFL, Goodell and potentially the Ravens who have been talking from both sides of their mouths.

For her part, Janay Rice spoke with ESPN’s Jemele Hill and these were her first actual comments to the press. I find Hill getting the story to be odd since she has had a subjective look on athletes and their off-field problems since day one but that’s for another article.

What I took from this interview was that I don’t believe we are getting the truth and that’s fine as long as nothing ever happens again. Mrs. Rice explained what happened in the elevator and the comment about “as soon as Ray looked at his phone he spit at me and slapped me” speaks volumes to me. She claims she doesn’t know what they had been bickering about but remembers the phone coming out.

Nothing makes a woman more upset then when a man starts looking at his phone during an argument.

The other thing she says that concerns me is that “this was the only time he’s ever done this.” I call BS on that and if I’m wrong I’ll gladly eat crow but you just don’t defend someone so quickly who knocks you cold without something similar having happened previously. This is just my opinion but I’ve been on the planet long enough to see how these things work.

My gut feeling is that Rice will not get picked up this season simply because of the sideshow that will follow. I do think he’ll get a shot at training camps next summer but whether he joins a team or not I don’t know. What I do know is that Roger Goodell isn’t out of the woods just yet on this matter.

It’s Time to Give Thanks for Some Great and Maybe Not-So-Great Moments in Sports

Jeter
Jeter
Although I'm not a Yankees' fan, I'm thankful for the career of Derek Jeter.

I have an extensive list as to why Thanksgiving Day is the best holiday of them all but I’m not going in to that. I’ll boil it down this way for you; food and football. Does there really need to be anything other than those two things when we really get right down to it?

Today is a good day for me to give thanks to many things from the world of sports in the last calendar year so let’s not wait any longer.

I’m thankful for…

Derek Jeter. No one did it as professionally and as respectfully as the captain for 20 straight years.

The San Antonio Spurs who proved that winning basketball titles is still about how well you play as a team, not as a group of individuals.

The people at North Carolina who finally had the courage to come out with the news of the academic fraud that had been happening for years.

Ed O’Bannon and the other players who put a stop to the NCAA and EA Sports using their likenesses without compensation in video games. The time I have saved this year not playing the newest version of NCAA Football on Xbox 360 is immeasurable.

Playoff hockey which no matter who is playing it’s still the most thrilling playoff in sports.

The Tallahassee Police Department who continue to make the Keystone Cops look like CIA agents.

The people who bought Devon Still jerseys even if they weren’t Bengals’ fans.

College Football finally getting rid of the BCS.

Brady Hoke, Bo Pelini and Will Muschamp for giving me so much to write about this fall.

The Kansas City Royals who once again showed how great sports can really be.

Roger Goodell who as long as he is running the NFL will give me plenty to rant about.

J.J. Watt who proves that great players can be great people too.

O’Dell Beckham’s amazing catch which took attention away from talking about the Cowboys.

Upton
Why shouldn't we be thankful to Justin Verlander for giving us more opportunities to see Kate Upton?

Justin Verlander who keeps giving us more opportunities to see Kate Upton.

Not having to hear the name “Richie Incognito” this season.

Every player that scores in the waning moments just to make my betting pick look good.

College Gameday Signs which never stop making me laugh and cry for our nation at the same time.

Jon Gruden who makes watching Monday Night Football interesting from either a football standpoint or a “What the hell did he just say?” standpoint.

Officials in all sports and at all levels. It’s the most thankless job in all of sports.

Penn State who continues to wear the same uniform week in and week out rather than something new and flashy every week in an effort to sell jerseys.

California Chrome who gave us another amazing shot at the Triple Crown.

Batters who don’t need to re-adjust their batting gloves, body armor or cup between every single pitch.

Coaches who actually answer questions in their press conferences rather than give the same, tired responses each week.

An A-Rod free baseball season.

For Twitter which reminds me how great and horrible sports’ fans can be in just two tweets.

Jerry Jones who reminds all of us of the dangers of too much plastic surgery.

Jim Harbaugh who makes it OK for us guys to wear Wal-Mart pants. On second thought…

Two more months of NFL football.

Isn’t it nice to be thankful?

 

 

 

 

It’s Time to Talk Frankly About the NFL

Peterson
Peterson
It's doubtful we'll see Adrian Peterson in a uniform anytime soon.

The National Football League is wreck. It’s product on the field is under question more than at any time in my 40 plus years on this Earth and off the field it’s an even bigger mess.

Roger Goodell once again is wielding his fist of iron when it comes to discipline.Yesterday Commissioner Roger Goodell officially suspended Minnesota Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson for the remainder of the season. This wasn’t a huge surprise except for the fact that Peterson and the National Football League Players’ Association believed what they were told. NFLPA President DeMaurice Smith claims that Peterson was told by someone in the league office that his current suspension would be rendered as “time served.”

Clearly someone didn’t get the memo. Lost in this is the fact that we wouldn’t be here had Peterson not “disciplined” his four-year old with a switch.

What we as fans forget is that professional football is a collection of a couple of thousand men from over 100 million here in America. Factor in also that the majority of these players come from circumstances where things that are accepted there aren’t by the larger society as a whole.

We’ve seen a massive demographic shift in the type of players that the NFL chooses to employ. I don’t necessarily blame this all on the NFL either. Players come from the collegiate ranks and there was a time when those players actually put their academics ahead of any realistic thoughts of playing professional football.

In fact, an education was a necessity because pro football was only a six-month commitment. Players would finish the season and then head home to real jobs. Those days are gone if you hadn’t noticed.

It’s no longer about finding the most hard-working guy it’s about finding the most talented guy. Teams are willing to live with the ups and downs of potential problem players if it means they bring in dollars and championships. It’s this way across the sports spectrum in North America and football is just the ringleader.

When fans decide they’ve had enough and will no longer support teams that employ the Ray Rice’s and Greg Hardy’s of the NFL then maybe things will change but that time is unlikely to come. For Americans, college and pro football is basically what watching gladiators was to the Ancient Romans.

We love the violence and we love the drama and now we are willing to live with what happens off of the field too. Players are essentially nothing more than rentals now with the average career span being roughly three years. Much like the gladiator, the longer they can survive the better life will be for them.

The NFL and its’ players are under fire from each other and they are under fire from dozens of other entities as well. You need to look no further than the huge amount of attention paid to the recent World Cup as evidence of our nation’s moral compass being challenged. While Goodell makes the game of football softer and more tolerable to people in other countries, traditionalists like myself are left to watch the game we love become a shell of its’ former self .

Both the players and the league share equal blame in allowing the sport at the professional level to become corrupted and the college level is no better. Look no further again than what goes on at major universities all the time in terms of preferential treatment and the dismissing of poor behavior.

In many ways it really does get these young men ready for the pros where they are again coddled and given all the opportunities in the world to screw up and then when they do they are given passes.

My rant does not mean to poke a finger at every NFL player because there are many, many great men who do things the right way but sadly they are not what the public wants to hear about. A dramatic, dirty story is more enticing so why should we be surprised by the narrative playing out in the NFL today?

It’s a Good Time to Talk About a Little of Everything in Sports

review
review
Quit messing around MLB'ers! The game can speed up simply because of you.

If it sin’t already obvious to you I enjoy discussing football, both college and pro, more than any other sport. That doesn’t mean I don’t like the other sports because I do. Its just that I’ve always had a special place in my heart for football. Today I’ll certainly touch on that but I also have some thoughts on baseball and that’s where I’m going to start.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig announced yesterday that he will be forming a committee that will have the sole purpose of finding ways to speed up the game. I find this development very interesting because I’m pretty sure THERE ARE ALREADY THINGS IN PLACE TO SPEED UP THE GAME BUT THEY ARE NOT ENFORCED.

Sorry for the ‘all caps’ there but this is like having water to put out a fire yet you don’t use it for stupid reason. If you want to see games move along then let’s get pitchers back on the hill after talking to the sky for thirty seconds. Let’s get hitters back into the batter’s box rather than adjust their cups and re-velcro their batting gloves for a minute and a half between every pitch.

How about we stop specializing the game so darn much? Why do managers feel it necessary to make pitching changes based on so many factors that a nuclear physicist would get dizzy?

The fixes are already there for baseball but Selig, in one of his last parting moves of idiocy, wants a committee to investigate it. Sheesh.

Bisciotti
Steve Bisciotti laid out his case yesterday but according to ESPN, it has holes.

Late yesterday, Baltimore Ravens’ owner Steve Bisciotti spoke to the media in regards to the handling of the Ray Rice situation and the recent ESPN Outside the Lines report. Bisciotti claims that Ray Rice’s camp manufactured the story that OTL reported. Bisciotti hadn’t even finished speaking and already ESPN reporters were standing by their story.

At it’s core, this is still about a man knocking a woman out cold. The waves that came from that punch are still rippling throughout the league and society in general. What is obvious is that the Ravens did two things; they clearly lobbied Goodell for a lighter suspension for Rice and they had access to the video a lot sooner than they originally claimed. If it can further be proven that the NFL conspired to keep this incident and video in particular under wraps than this is very far from over.

Michigan Head Football Coach Brady Hoke made it clear in his press conference on Monday that he believes this team still has much to play for and that includes a Big Ten title. I certainly don’t fault Hoke for being positive because that’s what coaches have to be when the chips are down. The numbers unfortunately say something much different however.

Hoke’s Wolverines are as bad offensively as it can get. They’ve scored just one offensive touchdown against a power five conference school in their last three games and that was a late TD against Kansas State in their bowl game. Devin Gardner has actually gotten worse in recent games dating back to last year. His decision-making is poor at best and he struggles mightily any time Devon Funchess isn’t available.

Michigan still has trips to East Lansing and Columbus this season among other Big Ten games and I honestly don’t see this offense getting any better anytime soon.

It Just Won’t End But as Fans We Can Do Better

Peterson
Peterson
Add Adrian Peterson to the list of NFL players in trouble with the law.

I planned on writing today about the pennant races and the third week of college football but yet again I’m forced into another direction because of yet another stupid act by a professional athlete. Days after the Ray Rice video emerged leading to his release from the Baltimore Ravens, another NFL player in purple is finding himself in trouble with the law.

Minnesota Vikings’ star running back Adrian Peterson was charged with abuse of child in the state of Texas. He is accused of using a switch to discipline his four-year old son. When the child returned to his mother in Minnesota, she took him to the doctors where he was photographed with open scares on many areas of his body. The hospital then reported this to the authorities in Texas.

The Vikings have chosen to make Peterson inactive for Sunday’s game against New England and that’s the right move. But I have to ask, when will this all finally end for the National Football League?

Honestly? I don’t care when it ends but we as fans need to have a hand in it don’t we?

Apparently not because many fans, women especially, proudly wore their Ray Rice jerseys to the Baltimore-Pittsburgh game on Thursday night. Some were interviewed and even said “She (Janay Rice) hit him first so she deserved to be hit back.”

Hardy
Greg Hardy has had his domestic violence issues too and even brought his owner to tears.

This is the type of people we are dealing with here. This was far from the last stupid thing said though. I can’t even count the number of Tweets I saw last evening that were about Adrian Peterson screwing up their fantasy teams for this weekend. So let’s see; you’re upset that your fantasy football team might be impacted by Peterson not playing rather than being upset by the fact he abused his child?

I can’t tell you how sorry I am that your fantasy team is messed up. Perhaps you ought to get a different set of priorities in life don’t you think?

Peterson and Rice aren’t the only ones bringing the NFL more body blows either. San Francisco’s Ray McDonald played last week and will play again this week despite his arrest just days after the NFL put new domestic violence penalties into place. Carolina’s Greg Hardy is also prepared to play this week despite his domestic violence conviction this summer.

Panthers’ owner Jerry Richardson recently gave an impassioned speech about domestic violence. So moving was it that he brought himself to tears. If fighting against domestic violence is so important to Richardson then why isn’t he making Hardy inactive? Oh that’s right! Because the bottom line in the NFL is winning and winning means more money.

We’ll have to excuse Mr. Richardson then now won’t we?

We as fans have to do better. Are we really going to defend a man who knocks out his wife? Are we going to defend a player who ‘disciplines’ his son to the point where he bleeds? This child is four-years old not 14 as if that were to make it any better.

To this point the majority of fans have driven the social media outrage in the right direction. The push following the release of the damning video of Rice was a major factor in Goodell finally acting.

I’ve seen excuses about many of these players being brought up in rough circumstances and that they don’t know any better. That’s crap and you know it. We all know the difference between right and wrong and if we don’t then it’s our own fault.

Keep pushing Roger Goodell and the NFL to do better. It’s the only way to clean this mess up.

The NFL is Spiraling Out Control

Goodell
Goodell
Roger Goodell said his piece in an interview with CBS but was he lying?

It was just last week that I wrote about how no matter what the National Football League does wrong, it remains the most popular sport in America. It’s amazing how things can change in such a short period of time.

I really didn’t want to write again about the Ray Rice situation but new revelations last evening have essentially left me no choice. First of all, let me attack the Roger Goodell interview with CBS’ Norah O’Donnell on Tuesday night was not the worst interview of a guy under pressure I’ve ever seen but I wouldn’t categorize it as good either.

Goodell was as red-faced as I’ve ever seen him and I honestly don’t think it was because he was embarrassed. He looked as though he had spent the previous night on an all-night bender at Moe’s Tavern. While I believe O’Donnell asked him good questions, I can’t escape the fact she works for CBS which is a network that televises the NFL.

Rice
Ray Rice and his wife didn't exactly give the whole story to the NFL from what we know now.

Anyway, Goodell told O’Donnell that the NFL has never received nor seen the infamous elevator tape of Rice striking his then-fiance Janay Palmer. OK so let’s say this is true. If the no one in the NFL has seen it then my question is why not? They go to the ends of the Earth to investigate guys who smoke marijuana or use adderall or in one case, use fertility drugs in an effort to help his wife get pregnant.

So why then would this organization with greater power and reach than any corporation outside the of the US Government decide it doesn’t need to see all the evidence?

But as of last evening, we are hearing that might not necessarily be true…

A law enforcement official told the Associated Press that he sent a copy of the video to the NFL Offices. Could be just some guy trying to get some attention right? You might think that until he was able to produce a 12-second audio recording from a number at the NFL Office in New York where a female voice is heard saying “You’re right, it’s terrible.”

She said that when asked by the official for confirmation of receiving the video. OK, so this doesn’t mean that a couple of people aren’t trying to take advantage of the situation but things are just too coincidental aren’t they?

I mean, a number from the NFL Office? The voice confirms that she had seen it? Something isn’t adding up.

Worse yet for Rice is that ESPN’s Outside the Lines is reporting that he spat at Palmer in the elevator just prior to knocking her out and witnesses have come forward saying he did earlier in the evening as well. In the grand scheme of things this added dimension doesn’t do much in terms of the perception of Rice. It doesn’t help by any means but he’s already enemy number one across the country.

Before I wrap it up, let me get to the $100,000 question; Is this enough to bring down Roger Goodell? Initially I didn’t think so. Not seeing the video is blatant incompetence but probably not worthy of losing his job.

However, if it can be proved that Goodell has lied to Norah O’Donnell and that people in the NFL saw the video then I believe that would be enough to end his term as Commissioner and I for one would be just fine with that.

The NFL Finds Itself at a Crossroads

Rice
Rice
This shot from TMZ is from the clip of Rice striking Palmer in the elevator.

As with any major incident like the one involving Ray Rice and the assault on his then-fiance Janay Palmer, there are many angles and many questions that are troubling and head-scratching. What is clear as of this writing is that Ray Rice is no longer a member of the Baltimore Ravens. He is also now under indefinite suspension from the NFL leaving his playing career in doubt.

We are where we are because yesterday, TMZ released the one video from the assault we hadn’t seen but had assumed Roger Goodell and the NFL had. It was video from inside the elevator that clearly shows Rice strike Palmer with a left hook so vicious that it propelled her into the wall of the elevator knocking her out cold. I’m not linking the video because it’s disturbing. Frankly, google ‘Ray Rice’ and you’ll find it immediately if you’ve yet to see it.

Goodell
The only way I see Goodell in real trouble is if TMZ can prove the NFL has already seen the video.

By the time you read this, TMZ may have already revealed a major piece of information from this case. They reported last night that they have evidence that the NFL has in fact seen the video despite their denials. If, and this is a big ‘if,’ Goodell and the NFL are proven to have seen the video, it will be an incredible blow to any credibility that Roger Goodell has left.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet though and focus back on what happened yesterday. I find it incredibly sad that while all of us knew that Rice had assaulted Palmer, our true outrage didn’t come until we had actually seen the assault. I get it though because the video is that troubling and even imagining it doesn’t do it justice.

The social media reaction had a major impact on the decision of both the Ravens and the NFL and if anyone tells you differently they are lying. The Ravens by cutting Rice send him away with about $25 million in guaranteed money while taking a pretty big cap hit as well. Their hand was forced however and although it took this long, it was the right thing to do.

In terms of the NFL’s actions, some questions are certainly raised. First, Goodell admitted that he erred in the two-game suspension Rice originally received. Second, he then announced new penalties for domestic assault which was a move a long time coming. A first time offense earned a player a six-game suspension and a second offense would be a lifetime ban.

Therefore, why suspend Rice indefinitely? If the policy is now in place, why not use it? For a first time offender, Rice should have just been nailed for a six-game suspension. By not doing this, Goodell opens another can of worms. He suspended Rice indefinitely because of the severity of the video and perhaps even more, because of the reaction by the public.

Because of this, the can of worms I mentioned looks like this; if a player in the future abuses a woman and it isn’t caught on camera, then what’s the punishment? If a player abuses a woman on camera but it isn’t as “severe” as Rice’s punch, what kind of punishment does he get? See where I’m going with this?

As for Goodell, he’ll survive this unless TMZ truly can prove he had seen it. Even then, it may be difficult to get him to step down. Remember his job is to make money for the owners and that’s one thing he hasn’t failed at.