You wouldn’t expect Roger Goodell, a guy who protects the interests of billionaire NFL owners, to be publicly critical of Donald Trump. But in his first comments since Trump was elected president, the commissioner didn’t exactly give him an endorsement.
Goodell, speaking at the New York Times’ DealBook conference Thursday in New York, said Trump’s highly publicized comments about women have made the commissioner’s job harder.
Goodell has had to take a stronger stance against domestic violence after Ray Rice, Greg Hardy and recently Josh Brown brought the NFL under fire. Trump’s self-described "locker-room talk" drew backlash from many of the same critics, yet he successfully ran for the highest office — undermining the message that such behavior toward women is not acceptable.
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"It makes my job harder at home, too," Goodell told reporters. "I have twin daughters and a wife, so I have to explain that to them. So yes, on that front. Does it make it harder publicly? Listen, I think our country has to have more respect for one another, and we have to unite.
“I saw some very positive signs of that yesterday with our current president and Hillary Clinton’s comments publicly and others coming together and saying, ‘We have to get together. We have to unite. We have to address some of the issues and work together.’ President-elect Trump is our president so we have to get behind him.”
Goodell laughed off a video in which Trump nodded when asked if he’d fire the commissioner while campaigning in Massachusetts, as well as Trump’s comment that the NFL is responsible for him running for president by rejecting his bid to buy the Buffalo Bills.
Goodell told reporters it was unclear what effect Trump’s presidency would have on the NFL and said the league supports the rights of players and coaches who choose to express their political beliefs. He also defended the league’s progress in educating players on issues and rejected the belief that he and other NFL decision makers didn’t do their due dilligence.
“I don’t think people understand the complexity of these issues like domestic violence,” Goodell said. “People hold the NFL to a very high standard."