Roger Goodell can’t catch a break.
It’s been a tough year for the NFL commissioner. Wrestling with how to mete out penalties to players for domestic abuse and drug use. Trying to resolve a dispute concerning major head trauma in a way that doesn’t make the league seem callous about the dangers of a violent sport.
Now he’s dealing with the hot potato of “deflategate.”
Certainly he didn’t want to repeat his indecisive handling of the Ray Rice debacle, in which the NFL was widely accused of condoning domestic violence because it didn’t punish it.
This time, his decision was swift. Star quarterback Tom Brady got a four-game suspension, and the New England Patriots were fined $1 million and lost two draft picks. (Brady and Patriots owner Robert Kraft were livid. Brady has already appealed, and the Patriots are expected to.)
Goodell’s dilemma: To whom does he owe loyalty? To the public, or the 32 team owners who pay his salary?
The predicament is the same for anyone in the public arena.
Consider a corporate Board of Directors. Historically they were rubber stamps for management. As their legal liability increased, they became more demanding. (Think Dov Charney, who was fired by the Board as CEO of the company he founded, American Apparel.)
Or non-profit Boards. They’re usually volunteers who want to help a cause they believe in, but often they lack tools necessary to verify what they’re told. This leaves them reliant on the staff. Without oversight, bad things happen — from disappearing funds to human resources problems.
Or politicians. There’s always been tension between the wishes of the public and the wishes of those who write big campaign checks. That pendulum swings significantly depending on which donations are legally permissible at the moment.
Regardless of whose bidding is being done, don’t expect to be told who’s pulling the strings. Motives will be dressed up with rationales that sound more high-minded than they really are.
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