Craig Schaller

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OUT OF THE BOX!  Welcome to Craig Schaller's online column....


Should Roger Goodell step down as the NFL commissioner?  Should the NFL owners band together and fire Roger Goodell?

These are the two main questions that seem to be bouncing around on NFL themed TV shows, ESPN, Twitter, sports talk shows and every other sports media outlet.

It is the way it goes in the US workplace.  Anytime anything goes wrong, there has to be a fall guy.  There can't be any understanding.  There can't be any second chances.  If comeone screws up in any way, deceives or makes one bad decision, his head has got to roll!  That is the way everyone sees things nowadays.  It's one thing that bothers me now, especially since it happened to me.

I had a friend of mine rail against Roger Goodell the other day.  He was saying how horrible it is that Goodell hasn't cracked down on this latest wave of domestic violence among NFL players.  He was incredulous that Ray Rice originally only got a two game ban when the original video was known of, and then suspended indefinitely after the second part of the video was known.  He says Goodell needs to send a firm precedent when punishing Adrian Peterson and Jonathan Dwyer and Greg Hardy and so on.  He thinks it is appaling how NFL violence away from the field is spiking and out of control, and players need to be "taught a lesson".  He says Goodell needs to lose his job.

He is not alone.  Many, many other NFL fans seem to feel the same way.

So, do I feel that Roger Goodell should step down, or be fired?  Well, to me, it all depends on the answer to one question.  Did Goodell know of the NFL having the full Ray Rice video (or saw it himself) right from the beginning, and if so, did he fall victim to the Ravens owner and front office's pleas to "take it easy on him" and/or knowingly try to "sweep the incident under the rug"?

If the answer to that question is YES, then I believe a case could be made.  If not, or it cannot be proven, then Goodell has the right to stay at his post.

The thing is, this whole domestic violence thing among NFL players is nothing new.  This did not just start a few months ago with Ray Rice, or Adrian Peterson, or Greg Hardy.  NFL players have been givin' whupin's at home since football was invented.  It is a violent sport, and it is hard to turn that violent streak off once players walk in the door saying, "Honey, I'm home!".

Remember Lawrence Phillips?  The St. Louis Ram and former Nebraska great running back who once dragged his woman down a flight of stairs after knocking her out?  Remember Rae Carruth?  The Carolina Panther receiver that shot and killed his pregnant girlfriend and is now doing life in prison?  Remember those pictures we saw at OJ Simpson's trial?  The ones of Nicole's face all battered and bruised by OJ when he was still playing with the 49ers?  Remember Larry Johnson, the all-pro running back, who was arrested on THREE separate assaults of his significant other?  Remember Michael Vick, who committed atrocities to dozens of pit-bulls, killing many?

No, NFL players engaging in domestic violence has been going on for a long time.  Sadly, domestic violence has been going on in general since the days of the caveman.  We like to think we have evolved.  We like to think that humanity has become a world of pacifists.  For some of us, that is true.  For others, it is not...unfortunately.  

The main difference is that now, there are far more cameras, everywhere, that are standing guard to catch those of us who commit that domestic violence.  With more and more people (mostly men, but some women) being caught doing it, and better media covereage of these people, more people are aware of it than every before.

And this is a good thing!

But does it mean that Roger Goodell should be fired?  I don't think so.  

Goodell has shown something that you don't often see in a sports commissioner:  contrition.  He has admitted that he made a terrible mistake in his handling of the Ray Rice matter.  Because of it, and the backlash against it, he realized how upset the rest of the world is by his lack of a punishment.  I highly doubt he will be lenient with anybody anymore.

Goodell has been a good commissioner for the NFL.  He has the support of the owners.  He has been strong with most of the punishments for spygate, bountygate and all the other fiascos during his tenure.  He has been strong with his enforcement of NFL rules, punishing hundreds of players with serious fines over the years.  He has done whatever he can to help players safety--from equipment changes, to rule changes and enforcement.  And the bottom line--he has increased the popularity of the league since he took over from Paul Tagliabue.

Even with all of the outrage over the domestic violence recently, NOBODY has stopped watching!  The NFL is the lead on sportscasts all over the country.  The NFL Network has become one of the most popular cable networks.  Fantasy football keeps growing in popularity among both sexes every year.  A recent poll showed that 89 % of those polled said their viewing of NFL games will not be affected by all of the recent domestic violence incidents.

As long as that is the case, and advertisers are not walking away from the NFL, I don't think Roger Goodell is going anywhere.