NFL’s Roger Goodell in re-run of Custer’s last stand

The National Football League faces serious criticisms for its policy and actions against players found guilty of off-field violence. The specific case of Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens has opened up the broader questions of the competence of Commissioner Roger Goodell

The elevator punch

Ray Rice was videod knocking his then fiancée unconscious in an elevator of an Atlantic City casino. The assault on Janay Palmer took place last February. Initially, Commissioner Goodell banned Rice for two games for his off-field actions.

When the video appeared on the Internet in August, there was a belated reaction from Roger Goodell and the Baltimore Ravens. Rice was delisted from the club, and banned indefinitely from the league.

More abuse problems

More abuse problems were uncovered involving NFL players. Media interest in the story grew. Commissioner Goodell appeared to be ducking Press Conferences, and ‘went missing’ at a prestige event he was expected to attend.

The damaging press conference

When Goodell surfaced at a Press Conference, he was already appearing in the role of Colonel Custer with the Indians approaching rapidly. He appeared nervous and weakly apologetic. He is unable to explain his silence and unavailability for comment as the story developed. Videos of the event go viral.

The Media sound off

His conduct and competence become headline news. Rachel Nichols of NFL is among those in war paint. Goodell’s future as NFL’s chief honcho seems less than secure.

Leadership lessons

The conventional wisdom of Press Relations 101 is enough to start the discussion. Goodell allowed the story to build up by failing to make himself available to the Media. By the time he did face the press, he needed to have sorted out his symbolic acts of contrition. He missed his last chance to manage the dilemmas he faced.

Goodell could have taken lessons from the sad case of the even more beleaguered Rob Ford, mayor of Toronto, as he attempted to cling to power earlier this year. Ford, facing the media after his various misdemeanors had a wonderful line in self-criticism and contrition.

Acknowledgement

To LWD subscriber Mike Langley, who drew attention to the developing story.

The story will be followed

The story will be followed here in updates to this post.

26th October 2014

Goodell’s salary estimated at more than $200 million since 2007

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