Trust Goodell without proof? No can do
The narrative is so nice and neat: Roger Goodell, good. Standing up for player health and safety.
Jonathan Vilma and the other three players suspended by Goodell on Wednesday: monstrous for leading a ring that paid bonuses to Saints teammates for hurting other players at a time like this, when concussions are the big issue in sports.
The NFLPA: Bad. Standing up for villains over right and wrong. Everyone hates unions.
Plenty of truth surely is mixed into this neatness, but that narrative needs to be blown up. This is actually one big mess. And to trust Goodell and to blame Vilma, the players and the NFLPA is to fall into the dangerous thumbs up, thumbs down thinking that distorts truth and keeps getting us into trouble.
The NFLPA is in a tough spot here, batting conflicting interests. How does it defend player-members who were part of a scheme with coaches to injure other player-members? If the NFLPA really cares about player safety, then it’s not going to be easy to stand up for Vilma and the others, against whom Goodell has built up a big case.
Goodell does have a big case, right? Because we haven’t really seen that. And I expected more. We are trusting Goodell because he is the institution, and we trust institutions more than we trust people.
When the issue is player-on-player crime, what is a players union supposed to do? It is supposed to protect the players, that’s what. And at this point, the issue for the NFLPA isn’t about which players to defend. It is defending all of them. It is doing exactly the right thing in standing up for the suspended players, even if it makes the union look bad because of the nice, neat narrative.
“After seeing the NFL’s decision letters, the NFLPA has still not received any detailed or specific evidence from the league of these specific players’ involvement in an alleged pay-to-injure program,’’ DeMaurice Smith, NFL Players Association Executive Director, said in a statement. “We have made it clear that punishment without evidence is not fair.
We have spoken with our players and their representatives and we will vigorously protect and pursue all options on their behalf.’’
Was that typical union activism, throwing out right and wrong to stand up for self-preservation? It comes out that way when we think in a box. But the truth is, Smith is just saying this:
Hey, Roger Goodell: If you’ve got evidence against Vilma and the others, we’d like to see it.
I’d like to see it, too. So should every player in the NFL. So should you. Did Vilma actually pay players? Did money change hands? Who got it?
Somehow, we have been duped into believing in the righteousness of Roger Goodell
New Orleans Saints Bountygate players Jonathan Vilma, Scott Fujita, Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith suspended - NFL News | FOX Sports on MSN
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