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Deflategate Debacle Further Ruins the NFL’s Image

The NFL’s nightmare has come true.

Just last week, on September 3, Judge Richard Berman ruled to nullify Tom Brady’s four game suspension by the NFL. This verdict comes on the heels of a turbulent 2014-2015 season for the league, adding yet another chapter to the NFL’s bad PR saga.

The NFL’s disciplinary process has once again come into question. After months of insisting on Brady’s guilt despite no actual evidence of any wrongdoing, the NFL has once again been proven wrong. Judge Berman exonerated Brady of any crime and in the process questioned the league’s player discipline program.

That program has not had any success over the past year. Multiple independent judges have all come to the same conclusion over the past year: the NFL was wrong with its punishments. Ray Rice’s indefinite suspension was reduced to four games. Adrian Peterson’s suspension was vacated. And a judge reduced Greg Hardy’s suspension from ten to four games. This is not just a recent issue. In 2012, four players suspended for a total of 31 games as a result of “Bountygate” all had their suspensions overturned.

All of these problems can be attributed to one individual: commissioner Roger Goodell. As a result of the last CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) between the players’ union and the league, Goodell has the power to unilaterally issue player conduct suspensions. In addition to that, Goodell also is the person that hears the appeals to those suspensions, which explains why the appeals process almost never works. That makes it necessary for disciplined players to bring their cases to independent judges, thus, drawing out the process and making the NFL look foolish once the penalties are reduced or often overturned. When this happens as many times as it has, it not only is a blemish on the league but also on Goodell, in particular.

While Goodell has definitely lost the support of the public and the majority of the players, the owners still support him. And they are the only individuals that theoretically need to be satisfied: the 32 owners are the only people that can fire the commissioner.

Even though there have been multiple PR disasters, there have been plenty of positives during Goodell’s tenure. League revenue has hit all time highs, meaning more money for the owners. Just last year the NFL raked in an astonishing $7.2 billion, even amid the Rice and Peterson debacles. But with each time the NFL fails publicly, some support from the owners gradually erodes away. And if he doesn’t start making smarter decisions soon, Goodell’s next decision could very well be his last.

Written by Tristan Rhee’ 17


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