I have questioned in the past whether the NFL’s “personal conduct” policy is politically-motivated and a reaction of fear of the bad publicity generated by hypocritical and self-serving media and gender advocates. While he didn’t necessarily use those terms, Clay Travis posted on Fox Sports’ website a few weeks ago an article which attacked Roger Goodell’s fear-induced efforts to “please” fanatics, ignore the rulings of civil courts and impose additional punishments on targeted star players (all of them black) by all but destroying their careers by completely disregarding the protections of due process that are the right of every citizen.
Who cares if Adrian Peterson is merely one of millions of parents every year who punishes a child the way many millions like him as children were, and that corporal punishment by parents is legal in every state, only one of which prohibits such punishment from being “painful.” Or that if he was guilty, then our court system should easily make room for a few hundred thousand “model” parents, outraged that they are suddenly deemed criminals. But Peterson is a star football player, and he needs to be made an “example.” He is to be a “feather” in the cap of a prosecutor looking for his or her 15 minutes of “fame.” And who cares if a judge found that Goodell acted without regard to due process in the Ray Rice case, and ruled that his own wife’s admitted violent actions were contributing factors leading up to that slo-mo millisecond clip of Rice’s response to those actions; he needed to be banned for life to “satisfy” the fanatics. If the civil courts didn’t punish these players to the delight of gender advocates, then the NFL must “finish” the “job.”
In his article, Travis pointed out that “Goodell announced the NFL's new personal conduct policy and everything in pro sports changed. Up until Goodell's announced policy in April of 2007 for the entire history of American sports pro sports leagues had never punished players for actions that had nothing whatsoever to do with competition” that reflected “poorly” on the NFL “brand”—that itself was based on violent action on the field.
But the real problem was this: “A central tenet of Goodell's new policy was that punishments wouldn't be governed entirely by guilt or innocence in the eyes of the criminal justice system, Goodell would have the right to suspend players even in the absence of convictions or, amazingly, even in the absence of charges themselves. What's more, Goodell would act entirely on his own as both judge, jury and executioner. He would also hear all appeals to his punishments…With one fell swoop Roger Goodell replaced the protections of the American judicial system and installed a new system of punishment entirely predicated on the personal decision-making of one man. Meet Roger Goodell, dictator of football. It was a sweeping power grab without parallel in the history of professional sports.”
Travis goes on to say that this “power grab” received wide support by public, which I think may be a slight exaggeration. I think it is obvious that this “wide” support is an impression given by media reporting and the power it gives gender advocacy groups with a grudge against any organization (a pro sports league, for example) dominated by males. If the civil courts were too “lenient” even given the actual facts of a case, then the NFL is expected to ignore the evidence and mete out the “proper” punishment. But he does note that when these new rules and punishments were instituted, players at first meekly submitted to them rather challenge them as an affront to their own due process rights, and now it is difficult if not impossible for even Goodell to backtrack from them. Even with Peterson and Rice winning their appeals against the NFL’s sanctions, “Emperor Goodell” reigns supreme against even court rulings. Why hasn’t he been held in contempt of court for his arrogance? Why isn’t he in jail himself, like any other citizen would be? Why does the self-righteous media--including the sports media--pander to hypocrites with an agenda that doesn't take into account reality?
Travis points out the NFL is not in the law and order business anyways; it is in the entertainment business. If an film actor was accused of the same, would that stop a movie producer from employing him, especially if he was a “star”? Probably not. “And how in the world did the player unions all roll over and play dead when these issues were being debated? Can you imagine what would happen if Tom Cruise got investigated for sexual assault, wasn't charged, and someone in Hollywood tried to ban him from making movies for a year? What about if Taylor Swift got popped for a tour bus full of psychedelic mushrooms and someone in the music industry announced that her albums wouldn't be released until she'd served a music suspension of six months?”
But sports leagues and their athletes—especially their best athletes—are held to a different standard. “As a result,” Travis says, “we've somehow turned our pro sports leagues into pseudo-judicial bodies, required to investigate alleged criminal wrongdoings and render justice. And no one even thinks that's the least bit strange? Have you ever heard anyone question whether this idea makes sense? What in the bloody hell is going on here? Am I totally crazy for thinking that if you're not in jail you should be eligible to play pro sports in America? Now, individual teams can make their own decisions about whether they want people with criminal issues in their past to represent them -- just like every other business in the country can -- but why in the world should we allow pro sports leagues to punish players more severely than the actual criminal justice system?”
Travis criticizes the false “morality” of fans, and he has a point. Do fans care about off-the-field antics of the Seattle Seahawks, besides the Seattle Times and its gender politics game? They have gone to two Super Bowls, and Pete Carroll has received only accolades for turning would-be felons and social delinquents into a championship-caliber team. The NFL isn’t in the business of being a law court; it isn’t trained to be so. It is owned by businessperson who would expect to receive the benefit of the due process as any other person in this country, and that includes their own players. Let the courts do their business, whether some like it or not (especially the media); let the NFL conduct what it does best—play football.