Goodell no stranger to controversies during tenure
NEW YORK (AP) — The Ray Rice story is not the first controversy Roger Goodell has faced during his eight-year tenure as NFL commissioner. Here’s a look at some of them:
Goodell suspended the Ravens running back for two games, then made it indefinite after video of Rice punching his then-fiancee (now wife) in an elevator was released Monday. Goodell said to his knowledge, no one at the league office had seen the video before Monday. But a law enforcement official told the AP he sent the video to the league five months ago, and played a voice mail from an NFL office number confirming it was received.
A lengthy league investigation uncovered a three-year bounty program in which New Orleans Saints players were paid bonuses for “cart-offs” and “knockouts.” Goodell suspended coach Sean Payton for a season; former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams — the overseer of the program — indefinitely; general manager Mickey Loomis for eight games; and assistant coach Joe Vitt six games. He also initially suspended defensive players Jon Vilma (for the season), Anthony Hargrove (8 games), Will Smith (4) and Scott Fujita (3). Goodell later reduced suspensions for Hargrove and Fujita, but all player suspensions were overturned by former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who was appointed to preside over appeals. The Saints also were fined $500,000 and stripped of second-round picks in 2012 and 2013.
PATRIOTS SPY ON JETS
New England’s Bill Belichick was fined $500,000 by Goodell, the largest for any coach, on Sept. 13, 2007 for spying on an opponent’s defensive signals. A Patriots assistant coach had taken video of the New York Jets’ sideline and signals. Goodell also fined the franchise $250,000 and a 2008 first-round draft pick.
After offensive lineman Jonathan Martin left the Dolphins in October 2013 and complained about bullying tactics, Goodell commissioned an investigation at the behest of team owner Stephen Ross. Miami suspended Richie Incognito for the remainder of the 2013 season, a move supported by the league. Investigator Ted Wells concluded that offensive linemen John Jerry and Mike Pouncey joined Incognito in harassing Martin, and position coach Jim Turner participated in the taunting of a second player, Andrew McDonald, now with the Carolina Panthers.
PLAYERS LOCKED OUT
The owners locked out the players in March 2011 because a new collective bargaining agreement had not been reached. Although the draft was staged during that time, no other offseason programs were held. Negotiations dragged into July before a 10-year CBA was reached. Many fans blamed “greedy owners” and Goodell for the lockout. The lockout cost the league only one preseason game being canceled.
OFFICIALS LOCKED OUT
Before the 2012 season, the league again locked out employees: game officials. The replacements, with little pro football officiating experience, performed decently in preseason games, but struggled mightily during the regular season. In the Monday night game in Week 3, a last-gasp pass into the end zone appeared to be a clear interception, but instead was ruled a game-winning TD for Seattle over Green Bay. Three days later, the regular officials were back on the field. Since then, several executives under Goodell who dealt with officiating either left the NFL or moved to different jobs.
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