SBD/August 15, 2017/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Goodell Could Be Entering Toughest Stretch Of Career After Drawing Ire Of Jones, Kraft

Goodell and Kraft's relationship was complicated by the Deflategate saga
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is about to "enter the most politically murky stretch of his career" as he has now "pissed off two of the most powerful people in the league over the past two years" in Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones and Patriots Owner Robert Kraft, according to Kevin Clark of THE RINGER. If Jones’s ire toward Goodell regarding RB Ezekiel Elliott's suspension is "real and lasting, the commissioner will be tasked with managing a room at league meetings where the most vocal people are shooting him daggers." Goodell "isn’t going to lose his job" and most owners are "going to support this particular decision." The broader point is that in "every previous scandal, most of the rank-and-file owners listened to some combination of three power brokers" -- Kraft, Jones and Giants President & CEO John Mara -- and "pretty much fell in line." If Goodell "loses two of those three as fervent backers in the next heated crisis, his power could eventually be threatened." Jones' attack against the league office is "going to be acrimonious," and if it "becomes Jones vs. Goodell and it gets ugly, that’s going to considerably weaken Goodell" (THERINGER.com, 8/14). WEEI.com's Alex Reimer noted a Kraft-Jones partnership "would likely wield a lot of influence." Kraft "sits on multiple league committees and Jones is often credited with orchestrating the Rams' return to Los Angeles and the Raiders' move to Las Vegas." There is a "lot of time for this saga to play out," as Goodell's contract does not expire until '19. He will "probably need it [if] Kraft and Jones set their sights in his direction" (WEEI.com, 8/14).

JUDGE & JURY: PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio reported Goodell did "not personally attend the most important meeting" regarding the Elliott investigation. The NFL "acknowledged that Goodell was not present" for the June 26 hearing that "preceded the issuance of discipline." With credibility being such a "critical aspect of this matter, it’s difficult to make a conclusion about Elliott’s credibility without personally attending the June 26 hearing." While the independent advisors "serve as a bit of a buffer, their assessment of Elliott’s overall credibility is no substitute for the credibility assessment made by the person making the decision." A source said that Goodell also did "not meet with Tiffany Thompson," Elliott's ex-girlfriend, whose "credibility also is at issue" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 8/14). FS1's Skip Bayless said, “I'm a little lost because now the commissioner again looks foolish and incompetent. He's handed down a six-game suspension to Ezekiel Elliott without even interviewing him or the accuser, seriously? Let me get this straight. You are judge, jury and executioner! The buck stops with you, yet you didn't even look into the eyes of Ezekiel and his accuser? You didn't even study the body language as they testified to you before you handed down the suspension?” (“Undisputed,” FS1, 8/15).

BURNED BY THE PAST: ESPN's Pablo Torre said one thing observers have "always asked for is transparency" from the NFL with its investigations. Torre: "At the very least, we know how long this investigation took, about a year. We know all the people they interviewed and they consulted. ... It's hard to see fault with their reasoning because they laid it out so clearly.” But ESPN's Bomani Jones said it is “fair to ask questions whether they did this the right way, even though they were transparent, because they've done this wrong so much” ("PTI," ESPN, 8/14). The Washington Post’s Kevin Blackistone said he wished there was "some way that the league could let the judicial process play out and react to that, because I’m a little bit more skeptical of the NFL’s own investigation into these situations than I am law enforcement.” The N.Y. Daily News’ Frank Isola said what people "want to see is the NFL be more consistent” in the way they handle these cases. Isola: "Maybe that’s going to start with Ezekiel Elliott.” The Dallas Morning News' Tim Cowlishaw: "The league is acknowledging, ‘We’ve done a terrible job on the domestic violence front’” ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 8/14).

UNWANTED CONSEQUENCE: In Dallas, David Moore writes the "notion that the NFL has it in" for Elliott is "comical." That "doesn't explain why the NFL would want to tarnish the reputation of one of its brightest young stars." Moore: "Present a rationale as to why it makes sense for the NFL to go out of its way to assess Elliott a six-game suspension when Columbus prosecutors declined to file charges on domestic violence." This "isn't the outcome the NFL wanted." This "isn't the label the league wants to hang around the neck of a player who currently ranks fourth in jersey sales" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 8/15).
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