Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Ray Rice And Roger Goodell

The fascinating thing that comes from reading this authoritative account of the Ray Rice saga is that Rice - of all people - comes off looking pretty good.

Rice has - throughout his career - been exactly what the NFL wants its players to be: great competitors and great citizens.  Rice was incredibly active in the community and with charitable organizations.

It also seems clear that - unlike say Michael Vick - this was not a pattern of behavior but a drunken incident that Rice regrets with gut wrenching sincerity.

Goodell, however, comes across as a mercenary, favorite-playing situational ethicist.

It has always been problematic that league commissioners tend to work for the owners.  Bud Selig WAS an owner.  But it's the lack of independence of the commissioner from the owners that creates the sort of conflicts of interest that leads to Goodell suspending players for having marijuana in their pee but slapping the owner of the Colts wrist for an actual DUI.

What seems apparent with all this bullshit talk of "getting it right" is that someone like Goodell is not temperamentally empathetic enough to see beyond his cloistered group of advisers and owners.  As the outrage built over Rice's relatively lenient suspension, Goodell acted - not out of moral urgency - but because the league's bottom line was threatened.

Ray Rice seems like a decent person who did an awful thing; Roger Goodell seems like an awful person who was forced to do something decent after he has exhausted all other possible options.

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