By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
HOUSTON (CBS) — Roger Goodell’s annual press conference came and went Wednesday afternoon, and in somewhat of a surprising development, the commissioner took multiple questions from Boston reporters. He took two questions from The Boston Globe, one from the Boston Herald, and one from CSNNE.
Goodell insisted that he and the NFL handled DeflateGate properly and that the court system vindicated them. He said it’s “not at all awkward” for him in his relationship with the Patriots and the Krafts. He said he holds nothing personally against fans who are upset with his decisions.
Mind-blowingly, Goodell answered a question from Tom E. Curran about the public erosion of trust in the league by saying that the league is … transparent.
“Tom, the thing you have to always do, every day, is earn that trust, earn that credibility, and it’s about how you act and how you do things, being transparent, making sure people understand the decisions you make. I don’t expect everyone to agree with every decision I make,” Goodell said. “Those are always difficult, sometimes contentious and sometimes less than perfect. … You do them for the best long-term health of the game. … I will always seek to do things better.”
The league that claimed Ted Wells was “independent” before it turned out NFL exec Jeff Pash edited the Wells report? The league that leaked false PSI numbers to turn “DeflateGate” into a full-blown scandal and refused to ever issue a public correction? The league that gave false PSI numbers to the Patriots in order to get the team to open its doors to investigators? That NFL is “transparent”?
Stepping outside the deflated football scenario, Goodell is insisting that the league that suspended Josh Brown just one game instead of the mandatory six-game ban for domestic violence is transparent? If it weren’t for Ralph Vacchiano’s reporting in New York, the league might have gotten away with the fact that they knew about Brown’s history of domestic violence. But instead, the reports came out, and Goodell and the NFL and the Giants all scrambled to try to make good on their appearance.
That’s the league that’s transparent?
The league that omitted any and all mentions of President Donald Trump by players and coaches in all the published transcripts to the media this week is transparent? The league that employs a commissioner who feigned ignorance on this very topic when asked about it directly on Wednesday is transparent?
Frankly, Goodell was not his best self in terms of his salesmanship on the stage on Wednesday. He is a PR master’s PR master, and in the past he’s appeared much more energetic during these press conferences. But on this one … he just was not. Maybe he’s battling a flu, or maybe he’s getting tired of constantly working the spin cycle.
In any event, I personally tried to ask the man a question. I raised my hand, and a member of the NFL security team wearing a headset came over to me. He asked to see my credential to know who I am. He then said, “OK.” He never came back.
I didn’t fully expect to get a chance to ask a question. Typically, only the big shots from the big newspapers get a chance to ask the questions, with a few people from other outlets getting their opportunity. Also, folks from a city that’s very much in the NFL news (like San Diego right now) generally get a few more kicks at the can than usual.
And so, considering my questions went to waste, they might as well be shared here.
I wasn’t sure which one would be most appropriate to ask, so here’s both of them.
Admittedly, one is a little long. But sometimes, you’ve got to be thorough.
Roger, in your 20-page written ruling in which you upheld the four-game suspension to Tom Brady, you told a black-and-white lie. On page 8, you detailed that Brady denied talking to John Jastremski about the accusations of ball deflation in the news, and that instead the conversation was solely about game ball preparation for the Super Bowl. This appeared to be an instance of Brady lying in his testimony in his hearing, for which you were the arbitrator.
But a week later, when Judge Berman unsealed the transcript of that hearing, we saw a dozen examples of Brady speaking with Jastremski directly about the accusations.
This ruling took you a full month to write, so it’s fair to say it included no mistakes. So if you value ‘integrity’ as much as you claim, how and why have you not held yourself accountable for telling a very public lie in what was the most-scrutinized ruling of your career?
And why was it so important to you to ‘win’ Deflategate that you’d be willing to try to sneak a black-and-white lie past the public?
Roger, you’ve claimed that you’re available to the media almost every day of your job. Yet during the public mishandling of the Josh Brown suspension, multiple reporters said that they were denied interview requests with you. Instead, you spoke to the BBC in England, and you claimed that you “understand the public’s misunderstanding of those things.”
Roger, you yourself instituted a mandatory six-game suspension for all first-time domestic violence offenders. You spoke very strongly about domestic violence and promised you’d be better on that topic. Yet for the kicker on a team owned by your close friend in John Mara, you lessened that suspension significantly down to one game.
What is so difficult for us in the public to “misunderstand”?
Hey, there’s always next year.