How dreadful everything must appear to the NFL’s commissioner. But how he’s handled this crisis should be familiar to Kansas City news consumers.
First, let’s recap Roger Goodell’s fresh hell:
TMZ Sports got video of Ray Rice punching his fiancee while in a casino elevator, making Goodell’s initial two-game suspension seem awfully tolerant.
The Associated Press followed up with news suggesting that someone in the NFL had seen the video before Rice’s suspension. ESPN followed up with sources saying that Rice had confessed to Goodell that he’d punched his fiancee.
Suddenly, the shine was off the new football season and Ray Rice was the only topic anybody wanted to discuss with Roger Goodell.
Goodell responded by spiking the ball and trying to stop the clock. He called in a former FBI director to lead an independent investigation. But even that didn’t stop the questions, so on Friday he promised more transparency and better policies.
Questions arise at the top of a revered institution, leadership appears frozen and uncertain, and experts are called in to find facts.
Sound familiar? It should because it’s how notable local scandals have been managed for years.
Think about the University of Kansas basketball ticket-skimming scandal. Think about the local Catholic diocese coping with its pornographer priest.
After a prolonged outcry in each case, the institution brought in lawyers, investigators or accountants to scour records, interview witnesses and parties, and prepare a public report.
And for a few months, at least, the institution returned to something next to normal.
Such reports seldom bring good news.
They’re packed with useful and surprising facts but often are maddeningly incomplete. That’s because you can still go home after lying to a private investigator. Lie to a grand jury and you could go to jail.
Such reports also expose base internal cultures that leave their own scars. What does it say about sports that even the KU ticket office had developed a culture of fear and retaliation? Shouldn’t the bishop have asked more questions about his troublesome priest?
And the reports are almost never good for whomever is at the top, even if the investigation apportioned them no blame. The person in the corner office always owns the problems and is marked by them.
Goodell will find no joy in his investigation. Just ask Lew Perkins or Robert Finn.