The 2014 NFL season is officially over, and many would argue that this season has been one of the most controversial seasons in league history. Numerous players and teams have gotten in trouble for all sorts of reasons on and off the field. Some punishments have been handed out and have been changed after uproars from the fans and the media. All of these issues come back to one man, the commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell. Goodell has been known for many things throughout his career as commissioner. From harsh fines, suspensions, rule changes and studies on head injuries, the mark this man has made on the NFL will last forever, both good and bad. But this past season Goodell made numerous mistakes, the biggest in regards to suspensions. Some of the decisions will be coming in the next few weeks/months after particular situations are invested further. But when all is said and done, will fans be fed up with Roger Goodell and the NFL? Will the mistakes this man has made cause people to stop tuning in?
Here are some of the cases Roger Goodell has had to deal with or will be dealing with and the impact he has had on them:
The Ray Rice Domestic Violence Case:
On February 15, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and then-fiance Janay Palmer were arrested and charged with simple assault charges, and four days later a video emerged online of Rice dragging an unconscious Palmer out of an elevator in Atlantic City (sbnation.com). A month later, Rice and Palmer would get married. After entering counseling and holding a press conference addressing the issue, Roger Goodell suspended Ray Rice for the first two games of the regular season on July 24. At first, fans were confused but not angry about the suspension only being 2 games. At the time, no video of Ray knocking out Janay existed. But on Sept. 9, that all changed. A video leaked online that clearly showed Ray throwing a punch at Janay and knocking her out cold. That same day, Rice was cut by the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the NFL. A large number of people believed that there was no way that Goodell had not seen the video, and had only suspended Rice for two games based off his previously clean track record. Both Goodell and the Ravens were criticized, and many believed Goodell should have been fired for only suspending Rice two games. Goodell continued to insist that no one in the league offices had seen the video, and also claimed that listening to how Ray responded to the situation determined the 2 game suspension. On Nov. 28, Rice was reinstated by the NFL and spent the rest of the regular season watching from his couch as a free agent.
The Adrian Peterson Child Abuse Case
In May 2014, a police report emerged, claiming that Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson used a switch to discipline his son, leaving bruises and lacerations all over the child’s body (sbnation.com). After going before a jury who decided not to indict Peterson, he would play in the Vikings week one game against the Rams. Not even a week later, Peterson was indicted for reckless or negligent injury to a child. Peterson would miss the Vikings week two game and was activated again the week after, until another report of child abuse emerged, and the Vikings placed the running back on the NFL’s exempt/commissioner’s list. Two months later, after Peterson accepted a plea deal, he was suspended for the remainder of the 2014 regular season. After Rice got reinstated, many were confused as to why the former Ravens running back could play again and Peterson could not because in many’s eyes Rice’s actions were more severe than Peterson’s.
“Deflategate” refers to the AFC Championship game, where after investigation it was confirmed that 11/12 of the balls used in the game (provided by the New England Patriots equipment staff) were under-inflated by 2 pounds (wikipedia). The Patriots won the game against the Colts 45-7 fair and square, but the Patriots still broke league rules by providing under-inflated balls. Owner Robert Craft, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady all denied the allegations prior to winning Super Bowl 49. As of now, we do not know who is responsible, but it will be interesting to see what kind of punishment will be handed out depending on who is responsible. Craft is known for being good friends with Goodell, which also has brought up numerous conspiracy theories. One thing is for sure, it does seem fitting that the Patriots won the Super Bowl considering all of the issues in the NFL this past season.
Atlanta Falcons using fake crowd noise at home games
This past week the Atlanta Falcons were accused of piping in fake crowd noise at their home games for the last 2 seasons. The case seems to be true considering what owner Author Blank said in a press conference this past week; “I think what we’ve done in 2013 and 2014 was wrong. Anything that affects the competitive balance and fairness on the field – we’re opposed to, as a league, as a club and as a owner. It’s obviously embarrassing but beyond embarrassing [because] it doesn’t represent our culture and what we’re about” (nesn.com). After the story broke, rumors have been circulating that this could cost the Falcons a draft pick among other penalties, but judging on Goodell’s recent decisions, no one really knows for sure.
So, after all that has happened during the 2014 NFL season, is the NFL still unstoppable? Will the sport continue to be the most popular professional sport in America? Will the Super Bowl continue to be the most watched television event in history, breaking its own record every year? The answer is yes. Although NFL players continue to get in trouble and spark all sorts of controversies, the NFL keeps fans invested in its product. Fans enjoy luxuries the NFL provides such as NFL Sunday ticket, a program offered by DirecTV that allows fans anywhere in the world to have access to every single NFL game, both on their televisions and on their mobile devices. Fans can play Fantasy Football, which allows you to create your own team by drafting players and playing in online leagues against your friends. There is also the thrilling business aspect of the NFL, where fans can see who will be joining or leaving their team through the draft and free agency. Fans also enjoy merchandise, going to games in person and programs on NFL network. Football has become the most popular sport in America. Whether you are into the NFL, college football or youth football, the sport has become a weekend tradition that allows us to kick back and relax after a long week of work. People also like to pick a team that they feel a connection to and can support. No matter how many times players get in trouble, or what issues come about, the NFL will continue to prosper and all of us watching will continue to enjoy the great game of professional football that we all have come to love so much.