Goodell’s credibility takes another big hit

Judge deals another hit to Goodell's credibility

It took some doing, but Roger Goodell actually came out of the Ray Rice episode smelling worse than the guy

who knocked out his future wife with a punch to the face.

The story isn’t over, of course, far from it, but in the meantime, the NFL commissioner’s already shaky credibility took a massive hit on Friday, when former U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Jones overturned Ray Rice’s indefinite suspension.

We’ll see if any team now has the guts to take the inevitable massive PR hit by signing Rice.

I’ll bet somebody will.

For one thing, as much as I abhor the concept that the former Baltimore Ravens running back can now be perceived to some degree as a victim, NFL teams at least get to weigh that portrayal against what undoubtedly will be furious backlash for giving him a contract.

They have their commissioner to thank for that, because his handling of this whole affair was so spectacularly ham-fisted that Judge Jones scolded Goodell and the NFL for using the videotape as impetus for changing the initial ruling of a two-game suspension to an indefinite suspension.

“That the League did not realize the severity of the conduct without a visual record also speaks to their admitted failure in the past to sanction this type of conduct more severely,” she wrote in her decision, which upheld Rice’s appeal of the indefinite suspension.

I believe the NFL has the right to suspend players for conduct that it deems detrimental to the league, but from a strictly legal standpoint, Goodell looks like a complete dope for making it up as he went along, which seems to reinforce a pattern.

Rice gets two games, then it’s switched to an indefinite suspension, because video that Goodell had easy access to all along suddenly hit public channels, via TMZ.

In the meantime, Goodell ratcheted up the suspension for future domestic violence cases to six games.

And, meanwhile, the NFL’s grand gesture in the name of getting to the bottom of what and when the league front office knew, former FBI director Robert Mueller’s supposedly independent investigation, seems unnecessary in the wake of Judge Jones’ ruling.

Truth is, I had forgotten that Mueller was still looking into this. What’s taking him so long, anyway?

Apparently Ray Rice and his wife, Janay, gave Goodell a full, detailed account of what happened well before TMZ got its hands on the security camera video.

“I find that the NFLPA carried its burden of showing that Rice did not mislead the Commissioner at the June 16th meeting, and therefore, that the imposition of a second suspension based on the same incident and the same known facts about the incident, was arbitrary,” Jones wrote.

I’ll say it again, whether Goodell saw the full elevator scene or not doesn’t matter, not only because the Rices’ description should’ve sufficed, but because the police report itself should’ve been more than enough for Goodell to take meaningful action in the first place.

So, Ray Rice is again eligible to be signed by an NFL team.

Any takers out there?

History tells us that somebody will pick him up.

Michael Vick served his time for his dogfighting conviction and is gainfully employed by the New York Jets.

As a fan, I wouldn’t want Ray Rice anywhere near my team, and front offices and owners will have to consider that kind of mindset carefully.

At the same time, if I had a ticket to a game as we start to wind down the regular season toward the playoffs, I can’t say I’d sell it just because my team had signed Ray Rice.

More than anything, you root for your team and not individual players, and those logo-ed helmets and uniforms have some powerful pull.

Powerful enough to cover up the stink coming off the commissioner.

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