Scrubbing the Dirt Off the NFL Shield


If you haven’t read the ESPN Outside The Lines article released last Friday on the bumbling and bungling of the Ray Rice fiasco by Roger Goodell, the NFL and the Baltimore Ravens organization, it’s really worth the read. Don Van Natta, Jr. and Kevin Van Valkenburg obviously did their homework, much to the chagrin of Goodell and Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti I’m sure. It provides an in-depth look at the cover ups, lies, and the general “anything to cover my own ass” approach to business the league and its owners most likely operate on a daily basis, albeit this time they’re having to answer for their actions to the media, sponsors and general public.

I, for one, never believed for one second the NFL’s version of the events leading up to Rice being released by the Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the league. The idea that an organization as powerful as the NFL, with resources in security and law enforcement such as former FBI Chief Robert S. Mueller III at their fingertips, could have possibly not had access to all the videos that have subsequently been released, is, well, in a nutshell absurd. Mueller, by the way, has now been tagged to oversee an “independent” investigation of the Rice matter for the league. The investigation, however, will be led by two of Goodell’s closest confidants – Steelers owner Art Rooney and Giants owner John Mara – so take with a grain of salt that “independent” tag on any and all results that come from it.

Bisciotti’s casual, relaxed press conference was in stark contrast to Goodell’s the week before

This entire mess just makes me feel like I need a shower the more and more I learn about it. Bisciotti, who its seems used Ray Rice for any and everything to his benefit during his time with the Ravens –  from community spokesperson, to charity event attendee, to spokesperson for sponsors – was only too happy to quickly throw Rice to the wolves when things soured on the team’s version of the story. The Ravens did a quick 180 and released a statement after the TMZ “inside” the elevator video was seen by the public (a video the Ravens Chief of Security knew about within hours of the incident by the way), and kicked Rice to the curb decreeing what they had just witnessed as both “violent and horrifying,” and that the organization had now voted unanimously to release him. Then within minutes of that statement being released to the public and Rice himself seeing it for the first time, Bisciotti had the gall to text Rice the following two messages:

Hey Ray, just want to let you know, we loved you as a player, it was great having you here. Hopefully all these things are going to die down. I wish the best for you and Janay.

When you’re done with football, I’d like you to know you have a job waiting for you with the Ravens helping young guys getting acclimated to the league.

Rice was so offended/shocked by the messages he even took screen shots of them so he could prove they were sent. Rice, after being completely upfront and honest on the details of the night of the event with the Ravens and the league from square one, at least according to him and several witnesses, was now being offered up as the sacrificial lamb for the team and its owner – but with a “wink-wink” from Bisciotti on the side. I might need a bath in addition to the shower.

Now fast forward to Monday, when Mr. Bisciotti had decided it was time (or there was no other options) to face the media and answer questions. Whether someone with PR experience got to Bisciotti over the past week I’m not sure, but he seemed to take a different approach on Monday during his press conference than Goodell did last week in his. Bisciotti, in stark contrast to Goodell’s stiff, “everything is open to review” and “I will not resign” scripted responses to the media, appeared in jeans, with no tie and no socks, and seemed actually willing to be truthful (there’s a first time for everything I guess). For example, when asked why he hadn’t seen the entire video before it was released by TMZ, Bisciotti answered with, “I’m sorry that we didn’t push harder to get that tape. It seems to me in hindsight that we certainly had the leverage to say to Ray and his lawyer that we can’t have him play on our team until we see that last bit of evidence. There is no excuse for me to have not demanded that video – except I wasn’t concerned or interested enough to demand it. Never crossed my mind.”

That’s a pretty shocking confession to admit he wasn’t concerned enough about the situation to pursue it, and it’s an admission I believe. It’s exactly what I’ve thought from the beginning was the NFL’s stance on the issue of domestic violence – it’s not a big deal, ignore it and it will go away. Well its a big deal now, they can’t ignore it any longer – and it’s not going away.


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Tom Fireoved is the Co-Founder of ScoreBoardTX and President of Franchise Sports & Entertainment, a Dallas based athlete marketing and consulting agency. He formerly served as Vice President of the Texas Rangers and Executive Vice President of the Dallas Stars.


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