Breaking up with Roger Goodell

January 29th, 2015



What I’m about to say may surprise you, given my love for sports and the fact that it’s only three days until Super Bowl Sunday.


I’m sick of the NFL. The end of the 2014 season could not come soon enough for the league.


Don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to watch the Big Game on Sunday, and some of you may say I am a hypocrite. However, I’m not naïve enough to believe my protestsof not watching on Sunday will make any sort of difference.


The season started out with the NFL, the Baltimore Raves and commissioner Roger Goodell essentially wagging their fingers at Ray Rice, by suspending him for two games after he knocked out his then-fiancé Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City elevator.


It wasn’t until TMZ, hardly an authority in sports journalism, released the full video of Rice striking Palmer in the head and dragging her out of the elevator that the Ravens terminated Rice’s contract, and the NFL suspended him indefinitely.


Indefinitely, however, only meant about two and a half months, as Rice was reinstated on Nov 28.  Thankfully, no team decided to offer him a contract. Amidst all of this drama, Adrian Peterson was also suspended after allegedly abusing his young son.


To make matters worse concerning domestic violence, the NFL had the audacity to capitalize throughout October with breast cancer awareness gear. Did anyone in the NFL public relations offices think about the fact that October is also domestic violence awareness month? Apparently not.


Rice, of course, is not the only reason I’m fed up. Goodell consistently seems to be dealing with the issue of concussions in the sport, ever since the release of “Frontline: League of Denial” last year.


I was inspired to study concussions this past year for my senior honors thesis, and had a chance to talk to athletes and medical professionals. Questions surrounding league policy and knowledge about concussions seem to arise every day. Has Goodell known all along about the dangers of accumulating too many concussions?


I doubt we will ever find out. But I know it is an issue too dangerous to gamble on when the long-term health and well-being of athletes is at stake.


Fast forward to Jan. 18. The Patriots defeat the Colts 45-7, but ESPN quickly breaks a story that the Patriots played with underinflated footballs. Now, New England’s  rout of Indianapolis was pretty sound, so I don’t think we can say the Pats won only because of footballs.


But with a team and coach known for controversy (think Spygate or Aaron Hernandez), it begs the question: How many times have the Patriots done this? What about other teams? Has deflating footballs unfairly affected the outcome of close games in the past? What else are teams doing to gain an advantage?


In my opinion, Goodell is about three seconds away from a complete PR meltdown. He seems insistent on not stepping down from his post. And while his grip on his job tightens, my resentment deepens.


Right now, at the height of my cynicism, I believe this is a league that seems lackadaisical about domestic violence, the health or behavior of its players and even the teams comprising it playing fairly.


When fairness is gone, sports become less fun to cover. Toppled with the surrounding social issues? Forget about it.


I’m frustrated. Feb. 2 can’t come soon enough. I’m looking forward to taking a break from the NFL for a few months. And please, Roger Goodell, know that it’s not me. It’s you.