Death Of A Salesman

Onyx Contributor:  Tim Druck (@southendtimd)

On February 15, Ray Rice and Janay Palmer were arrested in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  Both were charged with simple assault.

Four days later, a video is leaked showing Mr. Rice dragging his fiancee through the doors of the elevator, unconscious.

On March 27, Ray Rice is charged with Aggravated Assault in the Third Degree.

On April 9, a law enforcement official received a voicemail confirming that an NFL Executive had received the videotape of the events inside the elevator.  The female voice on the voicemail expresses thanks and says, “You’re right.  That’s terrible.”

On May 1, Mr. Rice is allowed to enter a diversionary program to avoid conviction for Aggravated Assault.

On June 16, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell meets with Ray and Janay Rice, who have since married, at league headquarters in New York City.

On July 24, the NFL suspends Ray Rice for two games.

On September 8, the internal elevator video is leaked.  The league, including Mr. Goodell, claims that they have not previously seen this video.  This is the video of which receipt was confirmed by the NFL on April 9.

On September 9, the NFL’s Vice President of Corporate Communications, Brian McCarthy, states that the NFL had not received the internal elevator video prior to September 8.  Again, the same video that was confirmed received on April 9.

I just want to get the story straight.  This is the timeline.  These are the dates.

It is important to note here that the NFL’s internal security department is among the best, most secretive corporate security firms in the world.  Comprised largely of ex-FBI and ex-Secret Service agents, it is believed among those in the know that there is nothing an NFL player can do that will escape the notice of the league.  NFL Security has been on the scene immediately on a number of occasions where that may have seemed impossible.  Ask Ben Roethlisberger.  Ask Randy Moss.  Ask anyone who was on that boat on Lake Minnetonka – if NFL security can find out what happened on a private boat on a huge lake outside Minneapolis, surely they know that if you’re physically inside a casino; you are on camera at all times.

Yet NFL Security and Mr. Goodell expect us to believe that nobody from the NFL ever asked for or received the elevator tape.  Says that New Jersey State Police handles casino security.
I don’t buy it.

I’m no security expert.  But I’ve been to a casino.

Some of those NFL Security guys used to be casino security officers.

Law enforcement says they gave the tape to the NFL.  And has the voicemail to prove receipt.

“You’re right.  That’s terrible.”

I hate to be the one calling for a man’s job, but I have a daughter.  Roger Goodell or someone responsible to him saw that tape in April and only suspended Ray Rice for two games.  And then he lied about it, knowing the evidence was there to prove he was lying.

I just can’t be okay with a man being in a position of power, public or not, who would slap a man on the wrist for such a savage act, and then help cover up the severity of the incident for business purposes.  Some things are bigger than money.

But if it’s just about money, the NFL owners can’t be about a man who just offended the hell out of a female fan base they spent billions and over a decade cultivating.  All those pink jerseys, all those ribbons and pink shoes and pink-billed ball caps in October.  All those television ads depicting rabid, savvy female fans.  Those aren’t an accident.  They’re part of a concerted effort to appeal to a demographic that largely ignored the first sixty years of the NFL, a demographic that makes up over half of the people in the United States, and has great sway over the opinions and television habits of the other half.

That’s why it’s highly likely that the ownership of the NFL will fire Roger Goodell.

But that’s really not the right answer.

Forcing a man out does not force him to face the truth of his wrongdoing.

The Truth – the Onyx Truth – is that Roger Goodell lost the moral right to discipline another even one more man for his transgressions at the very moment he chose to cover up for one what he would not for another.  Not a single man in the NFL can trust Roger Goodell with his career.

Mr. Goodell, if there is any decency in you, step down as NFL Commissioner.  Restore integrity to the game.  Admit to your wrong and apologize with no qualifications for being a smaller, less-able man than your office requires.  Send a message that that no man must hold you accountable for your actions above that standard to which you hold yourself.

Behave, finally, with some honor.  You have twin daughters.  Send a message to them and everyone watching that the NFL, and the world, should not lie, cover up, or hide from the problem of domestic assault, or tolerate anyone who does.  Even when it comes to you.

Make room for someone who can hold other men accountable.

We will forgive.  But you have to go.

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