ESPN’s Adam Schefter joined Middays with MFB on Friday to talk about commissioner Roger Goodell, who is scheduled to break his silence and address the media in a press conference Friday afternoon. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
“This is essentially him coming out to defend the league, to admit wrongdoing, because I think everybody would agree that the league just got this wrong along the way,” Schefter said. “There are so many layers to this and so many levels to it that the league just messed up. And they’re going to have to own it. And we’ve heard the owners say, ‘Oh, we want to make it right, we want to get it right.’ And I’m sure you’re going to hear Roger Goodell utter a similar message. But I would think and hope that you would expect more from Roger Goodell. He’s the leader of the NFL. He’s making $44 million a year. He’s the most important man arguably in all of sports. Somebody with that power, with that responsibility, should have an incredible message to deliver today. We’ll see what that is.”
Schefter said he isn’t sure what Goodell will be allowed to say based on the legality of the situation, but he’s hopeful the commissioner is forthcoming.
“I think Roger Goodell has to be as transparent as possible. Period,” Schefter said. “Now, there may be certain legal limits as to what he can say about Robert Mueller’s investigation or whatever it may be. But I think it’s in everyone’s best interests for Roger Goodell to be as transparent and as honest as possible.”
Regarding the possibility that Goodell punishes himself for the league’s mishandling of the recent issues, Schefter said that’s unlikely.
“I think there’s a disconnect between the public perception of Roger Goodell and the ownership’s feelings on Roger Goodell,” Schefter said. “I think the public, by and large, disapproves of the job he’s done, has lost respect for his leadership skills and abilities, questions his credibility, and has less faith in him than it’s ever had. I think we all could agree with that, that’s the universal public feeling — not universal, the majority of the public.
“I think ownership still believes that Roger Goodell has done a great job. He procured a tremendous CBA for the owners. He’s got television contracts that are lucrative beyond words. He got labor peace. He brought stability and profitability to the NFL. And so the owners, by and large, are very happy with Roger Goodell. Now, I think, and I’ve spoken to some who are curious to see what Robert Mueller’s investigation turns up. And should it turn up that he lied, which is going to be difficult to prove, I think, but should it somehow be proven, then he’s going to be out of office.
“But it’s one thing to say that he’s going to be out of office and it’s going to be proven that way, and it’s another thing to actually go do it. I am skeptical that they’ll be able to find that evidence or prove it, that he blatantly lied. Now, in the bylaws of the NFL constitution it talks about having the best interests of the league at heart and reflecting positively, and I think we all could debate whether or not that’s happened over the last few months.
“But I don’t see Roger Goodell saying, ‘And because we missed the Ray Rice decision I’m going to find me four game checks,’ or, ‘suspend me for two weeks,’ or whatever it may be, because ownership believes in him.”
Following are more highlights from the conversation. For Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.
On if the league has been manipulating information to the media: “It has not been the league’s finest time. As a reporter, I can only speak to me. … And I can say that during the time I’ve covered the NFL for over 25 years, there are few if any incidents that I can ever remember where you look at the league and you say, ‘What is the league doing there? What is the league thinking there? Why are doing this this way?’ To me, the league always had an answer for everything.
“This is the one time you looked at the decisions that the league made and you said, ‘What are they doing?’ Like, Greg Hardy was convicted and he’s appealing it to court, and I know there’s a due process, but you’re letting this guy on the field? And I know the Panthers made that decision, but you’re allowing them to do that? I don’t get that. And the Ray Rice thing in hindsight — in hindsight, when everybody stepped back and took a look at it and evaluated it — how did you come to two games? How did that happen?
“And again, it’s very easy for all of us to second-guess it now. We’re doing that. We’re doing that, because the league deserves it. But they’ve misfired on a number of elements here. A number of elements. The Adrian Peterson situation — deactivated, activated, on the commissioner-exempt list. What is that? That’s from the strongest, best sports league in the world?”
On Goodell’s legacy: “I think it’s a case where this is always going to follow Roger. He could go on to become the greatest commissioner the NFL has ever seen, but people will say, ‘Remember back in 2014 when he didn’t get the Rice thing right and then the league tried to explain it away and went soft on domestic violence? And to me, that’s the biggest fault here all along. And again, it’s easy for all of us to say now, when we’re seeing a cultural shift, which is a great thing, and increased awareness, which is a great thing.
“But the league, when you go back and look, under Roger Goodell, and under Paul Tagliabue, has taken a typically soft stance on domestic violence. It just has. There have been any number of players who have been arrested, charged with domestic violence, very few — very few — got more than a one- or two-game suspension. The thing is, we never saw the video of those. If we had seen the video of one of those incidents, I can assure you that the outrage would have been a lot greater than it has been.
“But it came to be accepted where the NFL had given out these penalties, nobody questioned the league, nobody criticized the league, the league followed the judicial system — and while we’re at it, by the way, on a side note, what was the prosecutor thinking? We’re all over the NFL; how about our legal system and the prosecutor in New Jersey. They saw this videotape. They saw this videotape. Where are they on this? So with their lead, the NFL followed them, and they’re both wrong. They’re both wrong. OK? And we’ve directed our fury at the NFL, and that’s fine. But it should be equal. Rip the NFL all you want, and rip the prosecutor. I mean, that’s a joke. That’s a joke.”
On if Ray Rice will get interest from a team if and when he returns to the NFL: “I think that with Ray Rice it would surprise me to see him play this year. It would really surprise me. I just think that right now he’s toxic. But next year? … It’s not like teams are going to be clamoring over Ray Rice, but would there be a team next year who loses a couple of running backs in camp and looks down its roster, needs a running back, surveying the options and you see that Ray Rice is out there. You know what? With the right team, the right coaching staff, the right owners, you say, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know what? Let’s go give this guy a shot.’ ”
On Raiders coach Dennis Allen’s job being in jeopardy: “I think everybody could agree that Dennis Allen right now is in trouble, that if it doesn’t turn around — and nobody thinks in Oakland it will — that trouble is not going away. So, would it surprise me if he was the first head coach fired? Absolutely not. But I say that, in this league, things, they change quick sometimes. But I wouldn’t feel comfortable if I were him.”