An Open Letter to Roger Goodell


To The Editor:

Dear Mr. Goodell,

You’ve lost all credibility.

Sign Up for E-News

Ray Rice beat up his fiancé Janay Palmer in February of this year in an elevator in a since-closed Atlantic City casino.  He was later arrested for the assault, after a video showing him pulling her lifeless body out of the elevator was released and went viral on the net.

You decided as Commissioner of the NFL that beating up a woman is a punishable act and suspended Mr. Rice for two in-season NFL games.

Then for no logical reason, earlier this week you changed Mr. Rice’s suspension from two games to “indefinite.”   Because no new facts have come to light since February, one is left to wonder:  why the dramatic increase in punishment?

Perhaps the change of sentence was a result of the new NFL policy on domestic violence announced by you at your August 28, 2014 press conference.  You said then that you "didn't get it right" when you gave Rice the two-game time out, noting how serious domestic violence is and how the NFL won’t stand for it.  Going forward, you continued, NFL players who commit acts of domestic violence will be subject to a six-week suspension for a first offense and permanent banishment from the league for a second offense.  You provided the media with great sound bites, but if you meant what you said you’d have changed Rice’s suspension on August 28th from two games to six.  Having failed to do that, the press conference provides little insight into your current thinking.

A cursory analysis might conclude that the new punishment is a response to the video released by TMZ a few days ago that shows the brutality of Rice’s fist striking his victim’s face.  But we both know that’s not true.  The new video provided us with no new information.   It’s irrelevant.  Everything we know now about the incident we knew in February.

So again I wonder:  how did you go from two games to indefinite?  Why’d you skip the six-game penalty you’d announced just weeks ago for this infraction?

The answer, of course, is greed.  In deciding Mr. Rice’s fate you looked solely at dollars and cents.  The depravity of the act and the appropriateness of the consequences were the result of a risk/benefit analysis and not made with reference to good and evil, right or wrong, and punishment commensurate with the bad deed.

Your job is to grow and protect the NFL’s revenue flow.  For doing so you make more money in a year than most Americans make in a lifetime. The press reports that NFL team owners paid you more than $44,000,000 last year. 

When Mr. Rice’s predicament came to your attention, your response was to decide how much of a penalty could you meter out to Mr. Rice while doing the least damage to the revenue flow you’re paid so handsomely to protect.  Your answer was two games, and that’s what you went with.

Soon you realized, however, that the backlash surrounding Mr. Rice’s slap on the wrist consequence might indeed cost the league more than you’d first calculated.  Many people found your response inappropriate, insulting and insensitive.  The media storm that ensued made that sentiment very clear to your advertisers who, of course, ultimately pay your compensation.

Facing an unanticipated revenue hit, you felt compelled to act.  Your response was clever:  set a stiffer penalty policy for future but don’t mess with Rice’s two week suspension.  The league would look like it really cares and Mr. Rice, a very popular figure in your league, would be back on the field well before the end of September.

It looked like your damage control maneuver was going to work like a charm but then KABAM!  A video of “the punch” was released and, once again, Rice’s two-game suspension was the subject of controversy and media backlash.   

So you “re-punished” him for the crime for which he’d already been punished.

Your credibility is shot, but not to worry, you’ll do just fine.  You’re a very wealthy man and, like you, NFL franchise owners look to balance sheets rather than right or wrong in making decisions.  You’ve helped make a cohort of rich people even wealthier. [I can’t believe you’re now looking to entertainers to pay the league to perform at the Super Bowl rather than vice versa.]  I think you’ll find that they, like you, will look first to protect their incomes and, as a result, your job will be safe.

It’s often debated whether a sports league should get involved in disciplining a player for actions taken outside of the scope of the athlete’s job.  The justification for doing so generally rests on the premise that athletes are role models in our society.  Because our young look to them for good behavior, the league should indeed take a part in regulating their off-the-field conduct.

I wonder what would happen if, instead of athletes being role models for our youth, we instead looked to people like you to be our role models.  If that were the case I think you would be facing the consequences equally as severe as those now faced by Mr. Rice. 

An admirable role model would have crafted with care a quick and firm response to Mr. Rice’s conduct.  The focus would have been on the seriousness of the offense instead of the financial impact the sentence would have on the league.  Had you dealt with this matter in this way, you would have only had to act once.  You and your league would be held in high esteem.  Your greed might very well still exist, but this incident wouldn’t provide a window into it. 

I’m not sure you will be able to regain credibility outside of the NFL.  But for others in your shoes or perhaps to your successor, I have some simple suggestions.

As a business manager myself, I share with those under my supervision only one hard and fast rule of conduct:  don’t lie.  It’s simple and easy to follow.  And the rule applies equally to anyone in our organization.  I’ve had a lot of experience in business and this simple rule has served me (and my bosses) well.

If you demand that your players live up to a standard of conduct, I urge you to apply the same standard to your conduct and the conduct of your colleagues.  If you demand that athletes conduct themselves as people of character, you must do so as well.  If you’re going to look at them as role models, you must recognize that it’s only fair to expect from them no more than you expect from yourself.

I think you’ll find that conducting yourself this way will in the long run not only help with your credibility, it also will help you achieve your financial goals.  Nobody wants to work for or do business with a liar or person of low character.  And equally if not more important, living life in this manner will make it much easier to sleep at night and wake up and face your children each day.  After all, they likely do look up to you as a role model.


Evan Lerner


 The Guest Column is our readers' opportunity to write about a given issue or topic in an in-depth and educational manner.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Berkeley Heights

Pieces of Time: Applause Rings Out In Two Columbia Middle School Classrooms

February 23, 2018

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – Thursday night, the mass murder of students and faculty members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday, Feb. 14, seemed to be on everyone’s mind at the Board of Education meeting.

The board observed a moment of silence following the Pledge of Allegiance for the 17 people killed and 14 wounded in the shooting, as well as ...

Local Advisor Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the Roth IRA

BASKING RIDGE, NJ - 2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the Roth IRA. First made available to American investors in 1998, a Roth IRA is an individual retirement account that is funded with after-tax dollars and provides tax-free growth and income for retirement.

In honor of this significant milestone, Walter Pardo, CEO/Certified Wealth Strategist at Wealth ...

Giving Back: Learn How to Help Victims of Sexual Violence

February 24, 2018

Every year since 1984, trained volunteers with the Union County Rape Crisis Center have helped victims of sexual violence through the emotional, medical and legal aftermath of trauma. New volunteers are welcome to join the next series of training classes beginning on Thursday, March 22.

No previous experience in crisis counseling is necessary.

“Over the years our Rape Crisis Center ...

New Providence High School Presents The Addams Family -Tickets are Now On Sale

The Addams Family, who first came to life in the 1960s television series, will come back to life and take the stage at New Providence High School in March in a comedic musical twist on the classic story and characters.  Morticia, Gomez, Wednesday, Grandma, Fester, and Lurch, along with new characters and a full cast of Addams Ancestors will bring the creepy, kooky, all together ooky ...

WFP Tax Partners Walks You Through 4 Step Tax Return Process

Over 80% of Tax Returns Have Errors or Missed Deductions. You're Probably Paying More Than Your Fair Share in Taxes

BASKING RIDGE, NJ - Tax returns certainly give a clear picture of the past year, but WFP Tax Partners believes it's wise to strategize for the current year to have a plan for moving forward. 

At your tax appointment, they ...

Reminder: Free Wellness Program for Union County Military Women

All Union County women with military service – veterans, active duty and reserve – are invited to join “Boots 2 Heels,” a free event designed to foster wellness and connect women with resources and guidance for empowerment. Boots 2 Heels will be held on Saturday, February 24 at the Westfield Armory, located at 500 Rahway Avenue in Westfield.

The event is free but ...

Colleen Mahr Has Paid Her Dues, Earned Peoples’ Trust, and Left a Track Record of Success

February 20, 2018

Dear Editor:

As a 26-year-old Scotch Plains resident who cares more about the well-being of our town than about local politics, I am extremely disappointed that the Scotch Plains Democratic Committee leadership has decided to abandon Colleen Mahr in her run for Chair of the Union County Democratic Committee.

Mahr, who as Mayor of Fanwood for 15 years has worked closely with Scotch Plains ...

We Need More Women Like Colleen Mahr in Municipal, County and State Government

Dear Editor:

I’m proud to support Colleen Mahr for Chair of the Union County Democratic Committee  (UCDC) and am encouraging my Scotch Plains peers to join me.

I was a first time candidate wanting to make a difference in my hometown of Scotch Plains, when Mayor Mahr of neighboring Fanwood stepped in to help me campaign and win my election to be Councilwoman three years ago.

Democratic Party Would Be Making a Big Mistake by Not Recognizing Colleen Mahr's Talents

Dear Editor:

Mayor Colleen Mahr has been a valuable friend to the Township of Cranford. Whether it’s offering advice and assistance during devastating flood cleanup, supporting the Mayor's Council on the Rahway River, or her insight and assistance in meeting our affordable housing obligations, Mayor Mahr is always there for Cranford.

Colleen’s fairness and integrity is ...

Chatham Borough Police Chief Crosson has Retired; Captain Gibbons is Acting Commander

February 12, 2018

CHATHAM, NJ - Phil Crosson Jr., who has been a member of the Chatham Borough Police Department since 1992, retired from his position as the police chief on Feb. 1.

"It came on pretty quickly," Crosson said when reached by phone on Sunday. "I was on vacation for six weeks and I bought a business. I came back for one day and retired."

According to Crosson, ...

‘Reefer Madness’ Comes to Chatham Borough Council; Cannabis Advocates Make Pitch for Chatham Marijuana Shop

February 14, 2018

CHATHAM, NJ - A group of pro-cannabis activists came to the Borough of Chatham Council meeting on Monday night and used the public commentary portion of the meeting to ask the council to support a marijuana dispensary in town.

The advocates, who say they have attended more than 80 town meetings to inform about the benefits of medical cannabis, mentioned the 1936 movie "Reefer ...

Upcoming Events

Sat, February 24

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Sat, February 24, 10:00 AM

Municipal Court Room/Council Chambers, BERKELEY HEIGHTS

Return Berkeley Heights Public Library's Books, ...


Sat, February 24, 3:00 PM

White Tiger Dojo, Berkeley Heights

White Tiger Dojo Hosts Trauma Response Seminar: ...

Health & Wellness

Sun, February 25

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green


Sun, February 25, 10:00 AM

Camp Riverbend, Warren

Camp Riverbend Open House

Arts & Entertainment


Sun, February 25, 10:00 AM

Camp Riverbend, Warren

Camp Riverbend "Wacky Winter Olympics" Open House

Arts & Entertainment Other

I've Always Wanted to be a Doctor...Or an English Teacher

Think about the impossibility of the task we lay in front of high school students.  In addition to getting good grades, filling up a resume, finding the right colleges and writing countless admissions essays they also need to decide on their life’s passion at 17 years old...or do they?

As a college admissions representative the first question most students would ask me was whether ...

Now That The Dust Has Settled…Smart Tax Moves In 2018

Now that the dust has settled, here are some smart tax moves to lower your taxes and/or avoid higher taxes/penalties in 2018. These steps may be especially helpful if you live in high property and high income tax states (e.g. New Jersey, New York, California) since state and local tax deductions are capped.  Unfortunately all these changes mean you’ll need more time and energy to ...