Janay Palmer and Ray Rice at their press conference, May 23 of this year. (YouTube)
NFL owners are often accused of running a good old boys club with its commissioner, Roger Goodell, their hand picked mouthpiece.Under Goodell’s reign, NFL owners enjoy record profits annually and they in turn rewarded Goodell to the tune of $44 million dollars last year. Despite continued high profile police cases involving players arrested for domestic violence, child abuse, DUI, assault, rape, and drug dealing, the league continues to grow in popularity making Roger Goodell, Roger Good Sell.
However, with his recent botched handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence case and the outcry over it, it would seem the NFL stands to face serious fallout. The media has yet to let up over the potential cover up by Good Sell or Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti and yet viewership is at an all time high.
While a few of the NFL’s sponsors have voiced concern over how serious the league is at combating domestic violence or cleaning up player behavior, the reality is for every sponsor who might decide to drop their account with the NFL, there are probably ten others waiting in line to hop on board the league’s money train. Besides, fans will continue to watch the games no matter who sponsors them.
Look at Baltimore Ravens fans. Their owner, Steve Bisciotti, team president, Dick Cass, and general manager, Ozzie Newsome, all knew the content of the infamous elevator video showing Ray Rice knocking out his then fiancée, Janay Palmer, with one punch. They may or may not have decided to not watch the video but they received both a verbal and written description of it. Worse, when the team’s head coach, John Harbaugh, asked them to cut Rice immediately from the team, they all over ruled him and went to great lengths to minimize how long Rice would be suspended.
Ravens team leaders went to great lengths to downplay the incident as much as possible. Bisciotti probably lied at worst, or with held information at best, when questioned by his subordinate, Roger Good Sell.
Bisciotti, and his top team executives then put undue pressure on Janay Palmer to downplay what happened when they attended her meeting with the commissioner. Bisciotti then goes on to basically bribe Rice by assuring him of a job with the team to ensure he sticks to the company line. Finally, he tosses the only sane person in this fiasco, his head coach, under the bus by making him the face of the organization when answering to the press in which he also sticks to the company line.
It is no wonder scores of female Ravens fans were seen wearing Ray Rice jerseys at the team’s season opener. It’s also no wonder why fantasy football players are angered over the extended suspension of Rice. And if the Ravens fall short of the playoffs this year, their fans will scream it is because of the unfair treatment of Ray Rice.
Whether it is Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Ray McDonald, or any of the scores of other NFL players who screw up while off the field this season, the fans don’t care. They continue to follow their favorite teams because they provide a wonderful distraction to their own mundane lives. They will continue to purchase the numerous products pitched to them during commercial breaks while wearing their favorite player jerseys, whether the player is a convicted felon or not.
Until the NFL becomes the No Fan League, we are only fooling ourselves if we think the league, its owners, team executives, and commissioner are committed to cleaning up player behavior.
Excellent work, Mr. Good Sell.
James Moore is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching and currently runs his own personal training business, In Home Jim, in Hemet, CA. Jim’s writings are often the end result of his thoughts mulled over while riding his bike for hours on end.