A bombshell was dropped on the NFL on Wednesday when a law-enforcement official told the Associated Press that a copy of the video showing Ray Rice punching his then fiancée in a casino elevator had been sent to an NFL executive in April.
The source played a voice mail for the AP from an NFL office number in which a female voice allegedly acknowledges having received the video and says, “You’re right. It’s terrible.”
If true, Roger Goodell cannot remain commissioner of the NFL and will likely be forced to resign in the coming days.
If the AP source is correct, it may not even matter if Goodell is telling the truth or not.
Either he is lying about anybody in the office having seen the video or he truly does not know that the video was in possession of the NFL. The latter will be viewed by many as evidence that he is not fit to run the biggest sports league in the U.S. because of this incompetence.
This AP report comes on the same day that Goodell flatly denied during an interview on CBS “This Morning” with Norah O’Donnell that anybody in the NFL had seen the video:
O’Donnell: “So did anyone in the NFL see this second videotape (showing Rice striking Palmer) before Monday?”
O’Donnell: “No one in the NFL?”
Goodell: “No one in the NFL, to my knowledge. And I asked that same question and the answer to that is no.”
It also comes just hours after Giants owner John Mara gave Goodell an endorsement saying the commissioner’s job is not in jeopardy.
One person in the NFL says the league is “not aware” that anybody saw the video.
Even in Goodell’s own words, not being aware of the tape will not matter if somebody in the league office did actually have it in their possession.
During the NFL’s investigation into the New Orleans Saints in which players were given cash “bounties” for injuring opposing players, the commissioner made it clear that it did not matter if leaders of the team were not aware of the bounty system, including head coach Sean Payton, who was suspended for a year.
Many believe that Goodell cannot continue as commissioner.
Roger Goodell has zero credibility left. None. If the owners keep him on, he’ll be nothing but an empty suit, respected by no one.
— Bart Hubbuch (@HubbuchNYP) September 10, 2014
Goodell either flat out lied about the Ray Rice tape or has no clue what is actually going on. Either answer means he’s gotta go.
— Ben White (@morningmoneyben) September 10, 2014
But others are not so sure. It will still take a large number of NFL owners to oust Goodell at a time when the league is making more money than ever.
And like anything, it may ultimately come down to money. Change may not happen unless the NFL’s corporate partners and sponsors show that they feel the commissioner and the league have become too flammable.
I realise somebody else said this in the most callous way possible, but this probably will come down to sponsors. If they bail, firings.
— Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples) September 10, 2014
Even if Roger Goodell remains as the commissioner of the NFL, it is hard to imagine he will retain much credibility among football fans unless he can somehow prove that the league did in fact never have the video.
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