Roger Goodell’s Silence on Trump Speaks Volumes About His Lack of Leadership
Malcolm Jenkins. Chris Long. Torrey Smith. Zach Ertz. The Philadelphia Eagles. The NFLPA. Josh Norman. Reggie Bush. LeBron James. Steph Curry Steve Kerr. Philly mayor Jim Kenny. Senator Bob Casey. A million other politicians. A million sensible NFL fans.
Count these voices among the innumerable folks who have responded to President Trump’s callous, political decision to disinvite the Eagles to the White House. Or combated his blistering, provable lies that members of the team had knelt or stayed in the locker room during the anthem last season. (Not a single one did.)
Luckily the commissioner offered striking leadership and support for his players after they were disgustingly turned into pawns in President Trump’s game of madness.
“I don’t think it should take away from the fact that these players and coaches are speaking out on issues that are important to them and society. I encourage them to continue to do that.”
Oh wait, that was NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, on the other hand, has meekly gone into hiding. Not a peep all week. No statement. Nothing. Even for Goodell, a commissioner defined by public relations disasters and delayed reactions, this is a new low.
How hard is it to stand up for your damn players???
This week’s debacle had nothing to do with patriotism or what the flag means or anthem policies. If it did Trump would have spent five minutes studying the words to America the Beautiful in preparation for his laughable replacement event in front of “Eagles fans” who decided to dress up as well-suited Republican lobbyists. This was simply a man fanning the flames of his favorite wedge issue to create a toxic cloud to mask the layers upon layers of his own controversies and failures.
Caught in the middle of Trump’s delusional web were Eagles players, so many of them great humanitarians, fending off a slew of lies and propaganda about their lack of patriotism. Fending off with absolutely zero support from the league.
Goodell is fresh off the heels of arguably his biggest disaster yet, a national anthem policy that will fine players not standing for the anthem, mostly at the behest of a president who blasted the league less than 24 hours after its enactment for giving players an option to remain in the locker room. It has been widely reported that Goodell and the owners adopted the policy not because of their exemplary patriotism but a cowardly fear of a president and his cult’s impact of the NFL’s true priority: generating gobs of revenue. Humanity be damned.
Even after falling so deep in the gutter, there is zero reason Goodell could not have crafted a simple apolitical statement in defense of his players rooted in the truth.
Example: It is unfortunate that the White House festivities were cancelled. The league’s players are full of thoughtful, patriotic men who do and will continue to do important work in their communities.
A real leader would relish this opportunity. A real leader would inherently be proud of the social consciousness of his players and feel a sense of protectionism. A real leader could not stand by silently.
Literally the only silver lining from this week was a new wave of opportunity to spotlight all the critical work being done in the communities by Eagles’ players and their brethren. Instead of blasting the president and playing in his little sandbox, Jenkins silently cascaded a series of signs after Eagles OTAs, pointing out the incredible criminal reform work by a number of players. The union had a poignant Twitter thread along the same lines. Gobs of social justice warriors have been illustrating this undeniable truth.
But the commissioner has hid under a cape of cowardice. Instead of controlling the message as a real leader would he waits in the shadows for Trump’s next punch. Instead of feeling an innate desire to defend the players for whom he should be beamingly proud, he has been incommunicado.
As the NFL and union gear up for a labor war in advance of the 2021 CBA expiration, there were already a bevy of hot button issues including Goodell’s vast disciplinary power. His mindboggling disappearance this week will only intensify the bad blood.
Since Goodell has become a mute we can only speculate as to his rationale. Spoiler: There is no appeasing this president on the anthem.