Today is going to be the start of practice for 26 of the NFL’s 32 teams, but you won’t see owners on the sidelines. For the first time since The Shield took a 1-2-3 hit in the Ray Rice, Greg Hardy and Adrian Peterson situations, Commissioner Roger Goodell is going to be face to face with NFL owners who have seen the dignity of their profession soiled by the actions of their players.
In a “Save the Date” message to owners Monday, Goodell suggested some issues to be discussed today in New York City. Since the last time they met, there has been a groundswell of public opinion calling for Goodell’s head, which is not unusual for the mob mentality of blaming the boss for the actions of specific employees.
Goodell has publicly stated the intent to make over the personal conduct policy in the NFL to include specific off-field offenses, but this is the first time he will be eyeball to eyeball with his bosses. Today is a make-or-break day for Goodell. Either he comes out of the meeting with the power to be the police chief of the NFL or to defer legal issues outside the family.
In the letter sent to owners, Goodell asked them whether he should make those critical calls about a determination of innocent until proven guilty or farm out the policing aspect to a judge or an esteemed panel of non-football people to make that determination.
That decision will be critical to not only the relationship between the commissioner’s office and the owners, but the players association as well. If the NFL is going to be judge and jury prior to the point that an actual judge and jury hear a case, one can only imagine that the NFLPA would like to have a vote in making that decision.
The NFL is attempting to regroup after one of the worst public relations periods in recent history. The question that Goodell, the owners and eventually the NFLPA will have to ask themselves is what do we want as a united policy for disciplining players and the level to which the NFL does its own investigating into allegations of wrongdoing.
Goodell has been on the hot seat for some time now, but since the warming coils kicked in he has yet to sit face to face with the owners who pay his salary and appoint him to the position he holds. There are big decisions that need to be made that will likely have a lasting impact on how issues like the Rice and Peterson matters will be dealt with in the future. It isn’t getting a lot of publicity, but the decisions that eventually come out of today’s meeting with owners will be an important step in the NFL trying to restore the pride in The Shield and letting employees, fans and critics alike know that the standards under which NFL employees are held are going to change.
Big day for Goodell, NFL owners at meeting
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