Friday, September 19, 2014

Roger Goodell Speaks: Finally

The Jolly Roger finally came out of hiding Friday afternoon and held a press conference.

And he began the press conference by apologizing, by stating he made a mistake, he did the wrong thing in the Ray Rice case.

He began by saying; "I got it wrong, I'm sorry, but now I will get it right" He later added; "The same mistakes can never be repeated. We will do whatever is necessary to make that happen".

Goodell was also asked "Have you considered resigning? I have not. I'm focused on doing my job and doing it to the best of my ability."

But when pressed on the Ray Rice question, there was a problem. Goodell was asked about the difference between what Rice told him and what the video showed, he said that he wouldn't answer because the case is under appeal and he "respects the appeals process".  Um, Mr. Commish? Did you not say during this presser that investigations would be transparent?

He also maintained his belief that nobody at the league office saw the Rice video, despite the Associated Press report to the contrary.

Perhaps the most telling question of the Rice incident came from a TMZ reporter who asked how the NFL couldn't get access to the story. The reporter said "It took us one phone call".

And he spoke at length about Robert Mueller and his pending review of what the NFL did and his "search for answers". However, Mueller's past legal work and ties to the league were brought into question. Goodell says he didn't believe it would be a conflict. Uh..yeah.

Roger Goodell also spelled out a slew of new initiatives which he says will place the NFL in a leadership role and set an example of what is right and what is wrong.

**It should also be noted that the presser was crashed by someone from the Howard Stern show. Which may have been the most human moment of the whole event.

Among the initiatives:

---A partnership with the National Domestic Violence Hotline and National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

--Changes to the personal conduct policy. Goodell noted "Nothing is off the table"

---An updated conduct committee of outside experts (that should be interesting) that will be in place according to Goodell, "By the Super Bowl".

Bottom Line: An apologetic Goodell is playing the sympathy card. To his credit he's owning the mistake.  Classic PR 101, ask for forgiveness to help take the focus of the problem off of you.

But he also, once the questioning began, became the typically vague and condescending person he's been criticized in the media for being. He was very vague about his committee's, extremely vague when pressed about the Rice issue and vague about discipline and his standing with the ownership.

And there within lies the rub. It was a classic NFL press conference that didn't sound nearly as apologetic that it was presented as being. While admitting the obvious, both he and the league made mistakes, really nothing else was accomplished by doing this.

It came across strictly as a PR event to make Goodell be visible again. He's taken a ton of heat and has totally avoided the public over the last couple of weeks. And his handlers understood he had to say something. But he needed to come across as a human being in this press conference.

He didn't.

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