Goodell, Rice only part of NFL’s player problems

There seems to be a concerted effort of everyone from the TV talking heads to women's advocacy groups to get NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell fired, which only proves that they don't understand the situation.

Goodell is an NFL lifer, having worked in various positions within the NFL for years, one of them with Bill Walsh in the 1990s, before being elevated to commissioner. He has negotiated two very favorable (to owners) contracts with the players. He is not going to be fired.

In any sport, the commissioner has to please the owners. In the Ray Rice situation, Goodell was doing what the owners wanted. Do you seriously think that there weren't owners who had access to that video of Rice cold-cocking his then-fiancee (now wife) in an elevator? If they wanted Goodell to take stronger action, they would have told him. Instead, they wanted him to sweep it under the rug. He has taken responsibility for that, but he took the action, or lack of, that the owners wanted.

The best thing about this whole mess is that it has really concentrated attention on the issue of domestic violence. I was traveling at the time, but whenever I turned on the TV, whether CNN or local news, it was all about that video.

One of the aspects that is puzzling is how many women accepted Rice's behavior, especially those who are Baltimore Ravens fans. At games, many women were wearing replicas of Rice's jersey. They made comments like, “His wife has forgiven him, so that should end it.”

Sorry, but it doesn't. It isn't up to the victim to report the crime. If a bank were robbed, the bank doesn't have to report it. That's the job of the police. What Rice did in that elevator was a serious crime. The Ravens were right to cut him and the league was, also, in suspending him.

But before this, the NFL has been very slow in acting on this issue specifically and health issues for players in general.

At the heart of all this is the league's failure to act seriously on the steroids issue. What do you think when you see 300-pound linemen who are all muscle, no fat, or linebackers who are as big as linemen used to be but can run like defensive backs? Hint: They didn't get that way eating Wheaties.

This is nothing new. In the late 1980s, the phrase “'roid rage” came into being. But the penalty for the small number of players getting caught has been a four-game suspension, the same as that for possessing marijuana. Think about that for a while.

So, these amped-up players are much stronger than women — and they are out of control. Maybe Rice's woman didn't like his after-shave lotion. Whatever, she was seriously overmatched.

These players are not just dangerous to women but to themselves. The high-speed collisions they are having on the field are causing concussions and future brain damage. A report I saw recently said former players have more than double the chance of developing Alzheimer's than nonplayers.

Yes, the NFL needs to make serious changes. But removing Goodell is not one of them.

Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on Email him at

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