The right thing for commissioner Roger Goodell to do is quit, and Goodell sure has reasons to step aside. But a man like Goodell doesn’t walk away from such power and privilege – ever.
So, for the public to see the NFL get back to issues on the field, owners will have to do what Goodell won’t do: force him to quit.
They have the power to demand he does, and they ought to use it. For all the appreciation they have for Goodell and the money he’s brought them – and they’ve paid him handsomely for doing so – owners can’t like what he’s done to their billion-dollar brand.
Once gleaming like stainless steel, their brand is more tarnished than Jameis Winston’s image. For the better part of half a year, NFL owners have watched one issue after another put the league on the front pages for all the wrong reasons.
From doping to drunken driving to domestic violence, crime has been the new face of the NFL. From stars to benchwarmers, the men who have sullied the league’s reputation have stood in front of Goodell for what he passed off as justice.
But what he proved to everybody was that he was a judge who couldn’t discern a misdemeanor from a felony. Goodell has been too quick to forgive the latter but not the former. His bizarre form of justice made the NFL the butt of jokes that bothered everybody who loved the league.
The jokes haven’t stopped, even as Goodell has admitted he’s made mistakes.
“Unfortunately over the past several weeks we have seen all too much of the NFL doing wrong and that starts with me,” he said Friday.
Throughout his reign as commissioner, Goodell has said he believed in accountability. In fact, he’s demanded accountability from players, whom he claimed were solely responsible for any wrongs they did.
Those players have committed scores of wrongs. So has Goodell.
Some wrongs, however, are simply unforgiveable, and the wrongs Goodell has committed in dispensing justice aren’t the kind to forgive.
Such misjudgment shows ineffective leadership, and the blowback from it has turned into a PR nightmare for the owners and for the league. The repercussions from all of it aren’t likely to stop, not while Goodell remains the face behind these troubles.
To stop its troubles, the NFL needs a man whose credibility and accountability are unassailable. Goodell isn’t that man, and all the explaining he’s offered the public in recent weeks demonstrates that fact.
He can’t explain away ineffective leadership, which is why the public’s outcry continues to resonate across the sports landscape.
To silence the noise, the league needs to find a face, someone who speaks with a voice of integrity. That voice doesn’t belong to Roger Goodell and that’s the reason the owners should fire him.
That’s the only choice owners have, because Goodell won’t do the honorable thing for them: He ain’t quitting.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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(Photo: AP Photo/John Raoux, File)