Editorials

Fire NFL’s Roger Goodell for inexcusable handling of Ray Rice assault case

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell The Associated Press

National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote his own pink slip with his inexcusable handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence case.

NFL owners should fire Goodell for how poorly he served their multibillion-dollar industry. His actions betrayed the faith that NFL fans — especially women — have in the league and in Goodell’s running of it.

A stunning series of events on Monday made it clear that Goodell, who drew a $44 million paycheck in 2012, has no credibility left when it comes to violence against women by the league’s players.

A celebrity news website posted shocking video that showed Rice last February knocking out his future wife in an elevator. The Baltimore Ravens terminated his contract Monday afternoon, and the NFL indefinitely suspended him.

The Ravens and NFL acted correctly, but far too late. And that’s largely Goodell’s fault.

He already had been assailed, and properly so, by women’s groups and others for handing out only a two-game suspension to Rice after the February incident. At the time, the available videotape showed Rice dragging the woman out of the elevator. Goodell said he was satisfied with Rice’s contriteness.

It’s troubling that the Ravens as well as many NFL teams’ executives did not challenge Goodell’s decision. Of course, in the cash-centered world of the NFL, they all understood it was aimed at getting a star player back on the field.

In August, months later, Goodell apologized for his stance on the Rice suspension and announced tougher penalties in domestic violence cases.

However, as security tape from the elevator emerged, that ramped up especially troubling questions about Goodell’s character and his job performance regarding the Rice case.

If he had not seen the elevator tape — a claim being made Monday afternoon — why not? That’s an indictment of Goodell’s abilities and thought process. How could a website get access to this shocking information and not the commissioner, Ravens officials or the highly skilled NFL investigators?

Elevator security tapes aren’t exactly a secret. Jay Z, Beyoncé and her sister were involved in their own elevator spat in May, generating extensive media coverage.

However, if it turns out any NFL officials did see the security tape, all the more reason that Goodell should be history, too. That’s the kind of information he would be expected to know about. Failing to disclose that to the public would be reprehensible.

Goodell has helped build the NFL into an economic juggernaut. The good-old-boy owners will be tempted to keep the reins in his hands.

Instead, they must show America that the league means business when it says domestic violence and other assaults by players will not be tolerated. Those who don’t fully embrace that message — including the commissioner — should not be part of the NFL.

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