Roger Goodell’s rocky tenure as NFL commissioner isn’t getting any smoother.
Many fans are calling for Goodell to be given the boot following his handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence case. The commissioner, who raked in more than $44 million last year, initially suspended the Baltimore Ravens running back for two games after video surfaced in February showing Rice dragging his unconscious fiancée (who is now his wife) out of an elevator at an Atlantic City casino.
It was only on Monday when a second video from the incident was released by TMZ – showing Rice, 27, punching his then-fiancée in the face and knocking her unconscious – that the NFL announced the football player’s indefinite suspension from the league.
Many are insisting that Goodell and the NFL’s reaction was far too late. The hashtag #FireGoodell – calling for the commissioner’s removal, has been trending on Twitter. About 1,200 have used the hashtag in the last 15 hours, and more than 2,800 in the past 24 hours.
Several newspaper editorials and columnists across the country are also calling for Goodell to go, arguing the NFL had either seen the second video footage or chose not to pursue the matter further.
“Roger Goodell should follow Rice out the door – his leadership has no integrity and no longer can be trusted by the public,” wrote Ann Killion, a sports columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle.
“NFL owners should fire Goodell for how poorly he served their multibillion-dollar industry. His actions betrayed the faith that NFL fans — especially women — have in the league and in Goodell’s running of it,” wrote the Kansas City Star in an editorial.
Vice President Joe Biden told MSNBC host Tamron Hall on “NewsNation” that there is an argument the NFL should have responded much sooner. He added the Ravens ultimately made the right choice.
“So, you know, the first reason the NFL responded, in my view, there’s so many women’s fans in this billion dollar industry. So all of a sudden they say, ‘Wait a minute, he got suspended for a couple games? Whoa, that’s not enough.’ And they get a little more sensitized. And now – then – then it was longer. And then when the video was out there and saw how brutal it was, the Ravens did the right thing, fired him immediately.”
Later in the day, Biden commemorated the passage of the Violence Against Women Act 20 years ago. The vice president did not explicitly mention Rice, but stressed that no man has a right to raise a hand to a woman for any reason. Biden, who wrote the legislation that created a network of services for victims, expanded the number of shelters and rape crisis centers and established a national hotline, said work surrounding violence against women was “not even close to being finished.”
The White House has also released a statement condemning the attack.
“The President is the father of two daughters. And like any American, he believes that domestic violence is contemptible and unacceptable in a civilized society,” the White House said in a statement. “Hitting a woman is not something a real man does, and that’s true whether or not an act of violence happens in the public eye, or, far too often, behind closed doors. Stopping domestic violence is something that’s bigger than football – and all of us have a responsibility to put a stop to it.”
Goodell’s tenure as commissioner, since 2006, has come under scrutiny on several issues, including concussions, player safety, drug testing and suspensions over “personal conduct transgressions.”
Fallout from Rice’s indefinite suspension has been swift. Nike cut off its endorsement deal with the football player on Tuesday, putting him in the same bucket of disgraced athletes as Lance Armstrong, Justin Gatlin and Michael Vick, who were also given the ax by the giant shoe and apparel maker. EA Sports also pulled Rice from its popular “Madden NFL 15” video game series.
Rice on Tuesday made his first public statement since his contract was terminated. He told ESPN’s Josina Anderson that he has to “be strong for my wife.” He added, “She is so strong. We are in good spirits. We have a lot of people praying for us and we’ll continue to support each other. I have to be there for [Janay] and my family right now and work through this.”
Palmer, meanwhile, is standing by her husband’s side. In a statement posted on Instagram, she blames the media and calls the latest developments a “horrible nightmare.”
The Baltimore Ravens also deleted a tweet suggesting Palmer had taken some responsibility for the attack. “Janay Rice says she deeply regrets the role that she played the night of the incident,” the team tweeted back in May. After Rice’s contract was ended on Monday, the tweet was erased.