Straight answers? Not from Roger the dodger!

BY foxsports • February 1, 2014


Benjamins, boss.

Obamacare, boss.

Boys club, boss.

This is a very loose translation of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s remarks at his Super Bowl press conference Friday. If you want his actual non-answer answers between quote marks, they can easily be found. But I find this sums it up just as well, and with less BS.  

Because while Goodell did not wear a hoodie or Beats, mumble or bail after six minutes, he very much was in Beast Mode at his presser. Any question that was not, A) a softball, B) about making money, or C) specifically about making money in London, was deftly maneuvered around or answered with a response so hypocritical that it was almost rendered meaningless.

Goodell talked about how much the league values player safety, touted numbers that say concussions are down 13 percent and said he wanted a judge to uphold the league’s concussion settlement because he wants affected players to get money for the care they need.

And then he walked that back when 49ers tight end Vernon Davis — working as a journalist for The MMQB — asked a question about why the NFL’s post-playing-days retirement benefits are, for lack of a better word, embarrassing. What followed were a lot of words, many of which were mutually exclusive.

We want to help every player. We did not negotiate that in collective bargaining.

Goodell also talked about how, in light of the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito situation in Miami, he wanted to draw up a player code of conduct to hang in locker rooms and how he wanted players treating one another with respect.

And then he responded by dodging a question that at its very heart is about respecting others. He was specifically asked if he would call an American Indian “Redskin” to his face, and there was never a “yes” or “no,” only this silly insistence that Redskins is just a nickname. He kept repeating it as if, by doing so, everybody would say, “Oh, if it is only a nickname, then who cares if it is considered a racial slur by some?”

It is both incomprehensible and totally expected that Roger has refused to go all-in on this issue. Incomprehensible because this seems like such an obvious stand to take, to be against using a word that causes hurt and pain to others. Only a couple of weeks ago, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman delivered a scathing and powerful takedown of maliciously using words like “thug.’’

He was right, and yet Goodell is unwilling to do likewise about “Redskins.”

This is not about telling Washington owner Daniel Snyder he has to change the name of his NFL team. That is not going to happen; nor should it. The only way this works is if Snyder feels enough financial and social pressure to change. What Goodell could do is say that he has come to understand the anger and sadness Native Americans feel with the name and hope Snyder has real and meaningful discussions about choosing a nickname that reflects the values of the league.

You know, a personal conduct policy for owners.

He, of course, said nothing of the sort. He talked about polls in which American Indians were supportive of Redskins as a team mascot, which seems unlikely and irrelevant. It is like when white people try to say that the “N” word is not that offensive because a few rappers use it.  

One has nothing to do with the other.

And I always want to ask: Why would you want to use it? Why would you want to say something that is so hurtful and ugly, even if only hurtful and ugly to some? And using that logic, Incognito needs only to poll his former Dolphin teammates, and if a majority of them agree that what happened was not that bad then “OK, everybody back to your previous positions.”

This was the whole presser, dodge and spin and Beast Mode.

Only Goodell was spared condemnation. This reminds me of when Tom Brady hosted SNL and that sexual harassment skit with him walking around in his underwear and getting away with murder. What they learned about how to avoid trouble: Be hot. Be attractive. Don’t be unattractive.

share story