I know I have been talking about this a lot recently but the story continues to develop. Yesterday afternoon the 31 NFL owners (the Green Bay Packers do not have an owner because they are owned by their fans) unanimously agreed to begin implementing a new player conduct policy. It mainly deals with disciplinary actions in cases mostly related to family violence. These are obviously in response to the chaos that ensued with the cases surrounding Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson. The policy sets the protocol for how the NFL should respond if another case similar to either of theirs arises in the future. Implementing this policy doesn’t solve everything but it is certainly a start.
The biggest accomplishment of the new policy is weakening NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. It allows for the use of independent investigations and a special counsel who will “oversee the initial discipline” according to ESPN.com. The issue is that the commissioner still plays a role in the appeals process and now permitted to appoint private experts who help with the decision. That is a lot of power for the commissioner to have. It also keeps Goodell involved in the process in general which is not something I am particularly keen on seeing continue after Rice and Peterson were treated with so much leniency.
I say get Goodell out of the question entirely. The NFL commissioner is meant to work for the goal of improving the league as a whole, not playing judge in situations where he does not have the background to handle to problem properly. It seems as though he is desperately clinging on to power that he really should not have been entitled to in the first place. If Goodell really wants to continue serving as commissioner then he needs to have a better understanding of what that means. He cannot be controlling all from his office and slowly making himself untouchable. He is becoming corrupt with this power and seems reluctant to relinquish any of it.
So like I said, this is a good first step. The next step now is getting Goodell out of the equation when it comes to player discipline and moving those issues to an independent third party who can make an informed decision without any influence from anywhere else. Goodell has proven that he can be influenced. After discovering the public and his precious sponsor’s reactions to his light punishment for Rice, Goodell reversed course and went to the other extreme suspending him indefinitely. This is no longer a question of can whether Goodell can handle this responsibility. He can’t and he needs to be replaced in this capacity. If that day does not come in the near future, then it is time for the league to move in a different direction and hire a new commissioner to run the NFL.