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Volume 25 No. 175
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Goodell, NFL Sharply Criticized For Handling Of Kareem Hunt Case

Critics said Goodell should have been more visible this weekend amid the Kareem Hunt scandal
Photo: getty images

In the wake of the NFL's handling of the Kareem Hunt domestic violence case, The Ringer's Bill Simmons, a known critic of Roger Goodell, "took aim" at the commissioner yet again on his eponymous podcast, questioning Goodell's involvement in the matter and saying he is "not doing his job," according to Cindy Boren of the WASHINGTON POST. Simmons yesterday said Goodell has "been basically in hiding for about two years" and is "not a public face of the league, at all." Simmons: “He shows up at the draft, he hugs the players, he does his whole thing. Like, he pretends he cares about the players. He’ll show up at games, he’ll sit in the suites, he’ll give some very carefully orchestrated interview with somebody, no real hard questions." Simmons added, "Not only is he not doing his job, he’s trying to keep a low profile? Which is even weirder. Like, at that point, just don’t have the job. Why do you have this job? You offer nothing. What do you bring to the table? Where was he this weekend?" Simmons said of Goodell, "He should have been out this weekend and been like, ‘I can’t believe this happened again. This is on us. We put in all these policies’" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 12/3).

PLAN OF ACTION: In Boston, Renee Graham wrote under the header, "NFL’s Roger Goodell Has To Go." If it "defies logic that Goodell still has a job, that’s because we don’t understand the job he’s been hired to do." The owners are "thrilled with him," as last December he "signed a new five-year contract worth about $40 million a year." But Goodell's actions are "not incompetence," rather they are "well-honed ignorance for which he is well compensated" (BOSTONGLOBE.com, 12/3). FS1's Cris Carter said of the criticisms of Goodell, "This is not a Roger Goodell problem. It all gets pointed to the league office, but people don't realize, Roger works for the 32 owners. ... We need the owners to be more proactive and saying that they want to have something in place. We need the Players Association to be more proactive." Carter said things are "no different than the day we saw the Ray Rice video." Carter: "We don't have a plan of action of what to do to help these guys" ("First Things First," FS1, 12/4).

PROGRESS REPORT: In Boston, Tara Sullivan writes if the four years since the Ray Rice incident have "shown us anything, it’s how much the league would rather hide, obfuscate, and hope visual evidence doesn’t surface, a PR strategy rooted in a willingness to wait and react if necessary rather than be proactive and find it." The NFL "still doesn’t know what to do about incidents like this other than talk a good game." The zero-tolerance policy rewritten in the Rice aftermath was "supposed to include an initial six-game suspension for any offender, but that rarely happens." If the NFL has "shown us anything across these past four post-Rice years, it’s how little has actually changed in the league’s desire or willingness to position itself as a true advocate in breaking the cycle of domestic violence" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/4). ESPN.com's Ian O'Connor wrote the NFL by "making multiple attempts to speak with witnesses and to secure the video from hotel officials and law enforcement" believes it has "been more aggressive in the Hunt case than it was in the Rice case, a low standard indeed." However, even when a police department or hotel "refuses to turn over a video showing a man being violent with a woman, seasoned investigators have ways of discovering the critical contents of that video" (ESPN.com, 12/3).

CAN'T GET IT RIGHT? The AP's Rob Maaddi writes Hunt is the "latest example of the NFL’s reactionary approach toward serious matters." From Greg Hardy to Mychal Kendricks to Reuben Foster, the NFL has "taken different approaches on a case-by-case basis when players misbehave, drawing backlash from fans for what critics view as inconsistency and, at times, pandering to public perception" (AP, 12/4). ESPN's Pablo Torre said the Hunt case "demands proactive behavior, and the NFL is one of the most reactive corporations in American life." He said, "When you don't interview Kareem Hunt yourself, when you outsource that to the Chiefs, it becomes really hard to claim that you're trying to act like the police or the justice system." ESPN's Bomani Jones added, "Credibility is like insurance. You don't need it until you do and I think they look as bad in this as anybody else just because it demonstrates how weak they are in spite of their projections of strength" ("High Noon," ESPN, 12/3). In S.F., Ann Killion writes the league has "broken the public trust, again and again, bungling and burying incidents in hopes they all will go away," but "they won’t." The NFL "continues to make its priorities clear: Let the best players stay on the field no matter what they do off the field." Domestic violence is an "issue throughout sports," but it is the NFL that "pays lip service to the problem, that has had the most public incidents" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 12/4). But ESPN's Will Cain asked, "What should the NFL do? Because right now, I don't think there's a way for them to win. We are going to crucify them no matter what, but we should come up with some of the answers to these questions" ("The Will Cain Show," ESPN Radio, 12/3).