Ozzie Newsome, the highly respected general manager of the Baltimore Ravens, testified in the Ray Rice hearing that the former Ravens’ running back gave NFL commissioner Roger Goodell a blow-by-blow (pardon the pun) description of what happened in at elevator with his wife, Janay, long before the commish suspended Rice indefinitely from the league.
If this is true, Goodell should be fired.
Why? Because Goodell said Rice was “ambiguous” in his description of what happened on the elevator in the early morning hours of Valentine’s Day—and that Rice’s ambiguity led to him changing the two-game suspension to an indefinite suspension after seeing the video of the incident because he said he did not know the severity of what happened.
Goodell said Rice did not tell him he punched his then-fiance in the face and knocked her out. However, Newsome testified that he was there and, according to ESPN, heard Rice give Goodell the gory details.
This is not a Black man lying for another Black man. This is the commissioner of the NFL being called out on what appears to be a lie—another botched element of this sad case.
Newsome’s testimony also shows that Goodell suspended Rice twice for the same offense: Once when Rice told him what happened and again after the video was released months later showing the infamous left-handed punch. This gives Rice leverage to be reinstated to the NFL, although he likely will be hard-pressed to find a team that would welcome him.
A larger concern is the power that Goodell has flung about with impunity since taking over as commissioner—an overseer control freak who has used scare tactics to achieve his mission. Sound familiar in history?
He has exacted punishment on players with impunity, garnishing a reputation as a power hungry ruler of all things NFL.
The undercurrent is there is white rule over Black players. Goodell sits on high and determines what the athletes who drive America’s most profitable and popular sport are held held accountable for under his watch. Not a good look.
Players have gotten to where they are scared to voice concern about Goodell’s power, for fear of retribution. Problem is, his authority was granted to him by the NFL Players Association, same as with previous commissioners.
Goodell has chosen to use his power at times to insulting levels. The way he handled the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal, in particular, was outrageous. He issued fines for borderline hits, eliminated post-touchdown celebrations, viewed by many as another way to suppress Black celebration of achievement. Goodell ran things—runs things—as he sees fit, a dictator ruling his underlings.
David Stern did the same when he ran the NBA for 30 years, and instituted a dress code for players—a move widely considered an act against Black players playing in front of mostly white crowds. And it was under Stern’s rule that the league airbushed a photo of tattoo-laden Allen Iverson on the cover of an NBA magazine.
Rice’s case will challenge Goodell’s power. . . and future. If Newsome’s testimony proves to be accurate—and there is no reason to believe it is not—the commissioner will be proven to have lied. And his reign should be over.