Roger Goodell Blames Everyone But Roger Goodell

The fallout of the botched Josh Brown investigation has Roger Goodell blaming fans, the police, and everyone else for his failures

Roger Goodell, thinking, maybe — Getty Images
Oct 24, 2016 at 11:58 AM ET

The New York Giants and the Los Angeles Rams trundled off to merry old England and gifted the Brits a dreary, interception-strewn slog of a game in which the Giants prevailed, 17-10.

New York was without the services of its kicker, Josh Brown, following Wednesday’s release of police documents that show Brown battered and psychologically tormented his now ex-wife Molly for years. The team initially told Brown that he’d been placed on the inactive list, and then the NFL followed hard upon by sending him to their rubber room for a nice paid vacation.

The NFL has now reopened its investigation, but Roger Goodell needed to throw some thin gruel to the masses prior to Sunday’s kickoff, sitting down for an interview with the BBC. He was asked why he brings the ginger hammer of justice down on excessive post-touchdown twerking, but just can’t seem to get a handle on how to deal with players that commit intimate partner violence. His response: this stuff is, like, hard, and like, complex and stuff, and if the rubes watching at home—in dwindling numbers—don’t get it, well, that’s their fault, man.

“I understand the public’s misunderstanding of those things and how that can be difficult for them to understand how we get to those positions,” he said “But those are things that we have to do. I think it’s a lot deeper and a lot more complicated than it appears but it gets a lot of focus.”

Uh huh. So, Rog, were you “happy” with the investigation?

“Well you have to go and get the facts,” Goodell said. “We have asked repeatedly for those facts and the information that’s been gathered by law enforcement both orally and in writing. And we weren’t able to get access to it. So you have to make decisions on whatever information you have. We take this issue incredibly seriously. This is something we’ve been working on with policy changes, to educating our players to make sure they understand how they deal with issues with their family, give them resources to be able to deal with this.”

This mirrors the NFL’s explanation on Thursday: they would have known the extent of Brown’s violent behavior if only the King County (Washington) Sheriff’s Office had allowed the league to pore over every bit of evidence it had during an open investigation. (Though the state did not file charges against Brown, he may still be subject to prosecution.)

But the idea that the NFL goofed because they were in the dark is dubious at best. As Deadspin reported, Brown’s public divorce proceedings contained scores of evidence detailing Brown’s violent actions, all of which were available before the NFL levied a one-game suspension.

Further, though Goodell doesn’t mention her by name, he again implies, as the league did in August, that Molly Brown could really have done the NFL a solid, if only she’d told them everything she knew. (Again, the initial police report and her divorce proceeding spoke volumes.) What he omits is that she feared that if she cooperated, the NFL would manipulate her into covering for her husband, as she told Detective Robin L. Ostrum in a “panicked phone call” on June 2016. Per

She feared the NFL and the Giants would pressure her “into making this all go away” after Brown’s arrest, and the league will “look to cover things up.” Brown’s wife also expressed fear media backlash could impact Brown’s career, and that his arrest and actions could lead to his release.

When the league contacted Brown’s wife, she told Ostrum “that the NFL would only be looking to bury this whole incident and protect Josh,” according to the documents.

Given the way Janay Rice was made to seem complicit in the brutal attack perpetrated by her husband, then-Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, what reason would she possibly have to trust Roger Goodell at all?

Maybe, just maybe, the answer isn’t granting greater investigatory and punitive power to a multi-billion dollar entertainment company that doesn’t actually care about domestic violence. Not when they can’t even answer a simple question about a bungled investigation without blaming the fans for not getting it, law enforcement for not letting their private investigators play fake cop, a woman that might not have wanted to be a prop in a cheap PR stunt, and anyone else other than the NFL.