"Hisssssssssssss!" The Cobra (Maureen Dowd, thanks to a sobriquet bestowed by The Dubster.) sinks her fangs into NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Ray Rice (Baltimore Ravens running back/spousal abuser), and the culture of the NFL. This blogger once heard the Canadian philosopher Northrop Frye quote William Blake's explanation of horrific violence wherein the abusers "became what they beheld." Thus, the exposure to hypnotic violence in NFL football causes players to "become what they beheld." Blow up a running back or blow up a spouse or a child it's the NFL way. If this is (fair & balanced) righteous anger, so be it.
[x NY Fishwrap]
Throw The Bums Out
By Maureen Dowd
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When Roger Goodell was growing up here [in Washington, DC], he had the best possible example of moral leadership. His father, a moderate New York Republican appointed by Gov. Nelson Rockefeller to Bobby Kennedy’s Senate seat after the assassination, risked his career to come out against the Vietnam War.
“We should not be engaged in a land war 10,000 miles away,” he wrote to Rockefeller.
Egged on by Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon never blanched at putting his political viability ahead of the lives of kids on the battlefield, but Charles Goodell would not do that. In September 1969, the senator tried to force the president to withdraw all the troops faster by introducing a bill, S-3000, withholding money. He could have waited until after his election the following year, thus garnering President Nixon’s support, but he was that rare creature that seems to have vanished from the Washington landscape: a profile in courage.
His moral stance brought down the immoral Furies: Nixon, Agnew and Kissinger, who suggested Goodell was treasonous. As his five sons, including 11-year-old Roger, watched in dismay, the vengeful Nixon White House schemed against Goodell’s re-election, and, at 44, his political career was kaput.
The two legacies from his dad, Bryan Curtis wrote in Grantland last year, could well be “a measure of his dad’s idealism, his contrarianism, his stubbornness. And I bet we’d also find a kind of defense mechanism that develops when you see your dad destroyed on a public stage. An instinct that makes you think, I won’t let that happen to me.”
Now the N.F.L. commissioner, he proudly keeps a framed copy of the original S-3000 on the wall of his office on Park Avenue and told The Times’s George Vecsey in 2010 that it “was a valuable lesson to me.”
But what was the lesson? Goodell is acting more like Nixon, the man who covered up crimes, than like his father, who sacrificed his career to save lives.
As ESPN’s Keith Olbermann nicely summed it up, “Mr. Goodell is an enabler of men who beat women,” and he must resign.
Goodell likes to present himself as a law-and-order sheriff bent on integrity, whose motto is: “Protect the shield.” But that doesn’t seem to include protecting the victims of violence or American Indians who see the Washington team’s name as a slur. As with concussions, the league covered up until the public forced its hand.
The commissioner, who has been a sanctimonious judge for eight years, suddenly got lenient. His claim that it was “ambiguous about what actually happened” in the Atlantic City casino elevator between Ray Rice and his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer, during the Valentine’s Day massacre was risible to start with. What did he think happened? The man was dragging... an unconscious woman [out of the elevator] like a sack of mulch.
Goodell’s credibility took another hit on Thursday, when Don Van Natta Jr. wrote on ESPN.com that four sources close to Rice had said that the player had admitted to the commissioner during a disciplinary meeting in his office on June 16 that he had hit his girlfriend in the face and knocked her out. This makes sense since Goodell is known for being intolerant of lies, and since Rice probably assumed the commissioner had seen the video. Yet Goodell only suspended him for two games, two less than if he’d been caught taking Adderall.
It has been suggested that the N.F.L. give players purple gear (oddly the color of Rice’s Ravens team) next month in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. But they may as well just wear green. The Wall Street Journal reported that the greed league even asked entertainers to pay for the privilege of playing the Super Bowl halftime show.
Goodell was hired by the owners to be a grow-the-pie guy, which means shielding the throw-the-punch guy. Since he became commissioner in 2006, the league’s 32 gridiron fiefdoms have increased in value by $10.9 billion, according to Forbes. He wants to bring in $25 billion annually by 2027. Goodell himself is making more than $44 million.
Owners shrug off moral turpitude because when they pay a lot of money for a player, they don’t want him sitting out games, even if he’s been accused of a crime, because every game they lose means less merchandise and fewer ticket sales. So, as the N.F.L. continues its perp walk — on Friday, one of its best running backs, the Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson, was indicted on charges of abusing his 4-year-old son in Texas — Goodell looks the other way.
They think they can get away with anything now, even with women being almost 50 percent of their fan base. And maybe they can. Twenty million people tuned in to watch the Ravens play Thursday night — even without the irony of prerecorded Rihanna’s performance kicking things off — and the papers were filled with sickening pictures of women proudly wearing Rice’s No. 27 jersey.
The last sports commissioner who didn’t kowtow to owners may have been Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who banned Shoeless Joe [Jackson] and the Black Sox players from baseball for life even though they were acquitted in 1921 and went out with the jury to eat to celebrate. “Regardless of the verdict of juries,” Landis said, “baseball is competent to protect itself against crooks, both inside and outside the game.”
If only. Ω
[Maureen Dowd received the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1999, with the Pulitzer committee particularly citing her columns on the impeachment of Bill Clinton after his affair with Monica Lewinsky. Dowd joined The New York Times as a reporter in 1983, after writing for Time magazine and the now-defunct Washington Star. At The Times, Dowd was nominated for a 1992 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting, then became a columnist for the paper's editorial page in 1995. Dowd's first book was a collection of columns entitled Bushworld: Enter at Your Own Risk (2004). Her second book followed in 2005: Are Men Necessary?: When Sexes Collide. Dowd earned a bachelor's degree from DC's Catholic University in 1973.]
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