Once again, the NFL is taking heat over its handling of a player involved in allegations of domestic violence. Which means that, once again, questions are being raised about Commissioner Roger Goodell’s leadership.
On Sunday, during an ESPN panel’s discussion of suspended Giants kicker Josh Brown, Randy Moss became the latest to criticize Goodell. The former wide receiver noted that, at a time when the NFL is currently making a show of support for a major women’s health issue, the Brown case sends a contradictory signal.
“[In] breast cancer awareness month, where we’re sitting here supporting the women and then you come up with this Josh Brown, where it doesn’t seem like we are supporting women,” Moss said. “So I think the NFL really needs to take a deep look. I think owners are mad, and Roger Goodell, he is the biggest reason to all of this stuff that’s falling downhill with the NFL.”
On Friday, Brown was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list, meaning that he was essentially suspended with pay, while the NFL looks into documents that emerged this week in which the kicker admitted to abusing his wife. Existing allegations of domestic violence had been enough for the league to hand Brown a one-game suspension to start the season, but given that a policy enacted in the wake of the Ray Rice scandal allows for six-game bans, some wondered why the kicker’s was so short.
In addition to Goodell, the Giants are facing criticism for re-signing the 37-year-old Brown to a two-year, $4 million contract in April, given that the allegations had first surfaced in May 2015 (charges in that incident were dropped by Washington state prosecutors shortly thereafter). Goodell has insisted that the league was unable to obtain details of that incident, but the King County (Wa.) sheriff’s department delivered a sharp rebuke to that claim, and some media outlets were able to procure previously undisclosed information.
The Brown case is the latest domestic violence-related embarrassment for the NFL and for Goodell in particular, who was widely panned for his handling of Rice, Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy. And that’s not to mention other episodes, such as Deflategate and Bountygate, in which the commissioner’s use of his authority was criticized.
On Sunday, another former NFL star turned ESPN analyst, Tedy Bruschi, said, “I am just numb to the incompetence of the NFL.” The league, of course, is not entirely to blame for the actions of its players, but it is remarkable how often it seems to bungle the aftermath of those actions, particularly when domestic violence is involved.