My Three Cents

“Getting it right” is always better than “not getting it right”; but “getting it almost right” can actually erode trust in an institution or company. If you make a habit of fumbling the football, you run the risk of alienating your most important stakeholders.

Witness Roger Goodell’s press conference last Friday afternoon. Did the Commissioner of the NFL finally get it right?

In my opinion, the answer’s “no.”

Goodell apologized—again—for a sequence of serious “mistakes” and promised that changes would be made, including the institution of a mandatory training program on domestic violence. The Commissioner’s performance was widely panned for lacking sincerity and passion and for his inclination to be evasive when hard questions were lobbed at him. Los Angeles Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke did a great job of summing it up:

“Goodell showed up late, and his leadership never showed up at all. He professed contrition, but showed no remorse. He welcomed questions, but offered few substantive answers. Shortly after promising that he would ‘get our house in order,’ he then contributed to the NFL’s further image erosion with hollow promises, shallow platitude and evasive explanations.”

Granted, Goodell had a tough challenge before him.

  • The Carolina Panthers are considering putting Greg Hardy on the NFL’s exempt list. The star defensive end, already convicted on two counts of domestic violence, has been granted a new trial in November.
  • Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer, who was alleged to have assaulted his wife over the course of two days in July, was placed on the reserve/non-football injury list. The Cardinals also cut running back Chris Rainey from their practice squad. Rainey was waived by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013 after being accused of slapping his girlfriend.
  • The Montgomery County (Texas) District Attorney’s office is ready to hold plea negotiations with Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson regarding the felony child abuse charge he’s facing.

Anheuser-Busch, a $1.2 billion NFL sponsor, expressed concerns about the NFL’s handling of the conduct of their players. Nike pulled Adrian Peterson jerseys out of their Minneapolis-St. Paul stores. Wheaties reportedly told the Associated Press that it had removed Peterson from its website because his contract had expired months ago.

On September 21, ESPN published a comprehensive, shocking account of a seven-month cover-up in the Rice case that “has mushroomed into the biggest crisis confronting a commissioner in the NFL’s 94-year

Even more important, I think, is the hit to the integrity of the sport. Fans, players and media have long viewed the NFL as a powerhouse that valued excellence, honesty, good sportsmanship and community. I think the situation can still be turned around…provided that Goodell and company really deliver on their promises of meaningful and comprehensive change.

It’s time for the NFL to get it right!

– Evan Makovsky

thought leadership



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