Roger Goodell has taken his share of criticism over the years, but the NFL commissioner has also recently had an anonymous person willing to take aim at his critics online. Now Goodell’s mysterious defender has been unmasked, and it turns out to have been his wife, who called it a “silly thing to do.”
In a report Thursday by the Wall Street Journal, Jane Skinner Goodell admitted to using a Twitter account under the pseudonym “Jones smith,” with the handle @forargument. That account was deactivated Thursday, but not before responding to journalists who posted less-than-positive tweets about the commissioner over the past few months.
The Journal found over a dozen instances of Skinner Goodell, a former Fox News anchor, defending her husband on Twitter to such media entities as ESPN, NBC Sports and the newspaper itself. In one example, after Pro Football Talk tweeted Sept. 26 that it was “on the commissioner” to resolve the issue of player protests during the national anthem, she replied, “Please do better reporting. He is already doing this. You are behind.”
When the Journal’s Jason Gay tweeted out a photo of the commissioner posing with some Patriots fans during a preseason game, with the caption, “roger goodell with three guys who will be disowned by their families tomorrow,” Skinner Goodell replied, “Why is everyone so immature? (Including you?) let’s celebrate the new season.”
“It was a REALLY silly thing to do and done out of frustration — and love,” Skinner Goodell said Thursday in a statement to the Journal. “As a former media member, I’m always bothered when the coverage doesn’t provide a complete and accurate picture of a story.
“I’m also a wife and a mom,” she continued. “I have always passionately defended the hard-working guy I love — and I always will. I just may not use Twitter to do so in the future!”
The Journal was able to guess the identity of commissioner’s defender in part by observing that @forargument followed four Twitter accounts associated with the high school the Goodells’ twin daughters attend.
Goodell has been married to his wife since 1997. The daughter of Samuel Skinner, who was chief of staff and Secretary of Transportation under former president George H.W. Bush, she stepped down from her on-air roles in 2011, announcing she wanted to spend more time with her family.
Skinner Goodell’s use of an anonymous Twitter account to defend her husband reminded many Thursday of Kevin Durant, who appeared to reveal last month that he himself had employed a similar tactic to respond to online critics of his. The Warriors forward admitted that he had “another Instagram account,” but he said it was only meant for “friends and family” and was not being used “to clap back at anybody.”
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