Column: The NFL lets bad boy owners get down with a slap on the wrist

After Donald Sterling’s racist delirium was revealed to the world, the NBA moved quickly to banish him from the league.

Definitely, the forced sale of the Los Angeles Clippers It made sterling richer, but sent a clear signal that such behavior would not be tolerated, even by people with the largest checkbooks.

And then there’s the NFL, which seems content to let its villainous owners slip by with nothing but a slap on their wrist, no matter how terrible the offence.

Messing with some of the biggest names in the game? Are you suggesting that losing games on purpose is a good idea?

No problem, says the league who likes to throw “integrity” at every opportunity—except when it really matters.

In Commissioner Roger Goodell’s eyes, some mandatory vacation time, a fine roughly amounting to a loose change of couch, and a handful of two draft picks should be enough to smooth things over.

That’s exactly what Goodell imposed this week On Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, whose behavior was so reckless that he wasn’t out of line to get him out the door — or at least gently shoved him.

Of course, in its version of the news dump just before the weekend, the NFL aptly revealed the case against Ross – which is very difficult – while most fans and pundits were focused on the next step for quarterback Deshaun Watson, who received a six-game suspension due to allegations Multiple sexual misconduct during massage.

The NFL appealed, which could have sent the case to Goodell for a harsher and more appropriate punishment, but handed it shyly to an external judgment.

Watson’s case is bad enough. Ross’ deceptions were also worth the outrage.

But Goodell would rather we all move on after a week of disturbing discoveries and get to what really matters: a season that began aptly on Thursday night. With the Hall of Fame Fair game in Canton, Ohio.

don’t pay attention For this guy behind the curtain!

The great and mighty Komesh has spoken!!

By now, it should be clear to everyone that Goodell doesn’t care much about integrity as long as the league’s coffers–and its coffers–continue to grow at a rate well ahead of rising inflation.

Sure, he’ll swing into action when a player who hasn’t been with his team all season dares to enter a casino app to place legal bets on NFL matches. It doesn’t matter that the league has fully embraced sports gambling and has no problem cashing all the huge checks it brings in.

Calvin Ridley’s bet, which he readily admitted without any indication that he had affected matches, resulted in him being suspended for at least the 2022 season. It means the future Atlanta Falcons have no chance of receiving his $11.1 million salary until he is reinstated.

Compare that to the Ross case.

Goodell issued a harsh statement, detailing “violations unprecedented in scope and severity,” but showed he did not have the nerve to actually back up his words with decisive action.

Sure, Dolphins would be hurt by losing the first round next year and choosing the third round in 2024, but the rest of the penalties were laughable.

Ross was fined $1.5 million, roughly 0.018% of his estimated net worth of $8.2 billion and a flash compared to the salary Ridley did not receive. Ross is also suspended from his squad until October 17, which means he won’t be around for the first six games of the regular season – at least 11 games less than Ridley’s banishment.

Somehow, Goodell was able to justify the discrepancy in his penalties – perhaps because his mind is full of dollar signs – even though the league determined that Ross improperly negotiated with seven-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady and former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton while they worked for teams other.

“I don’t know of any previous case of a team violating the ban on tampering with both the coach and the star player, at the potential expense of several other clubs, over a period of several years,” Goodell said. “Likewise, I am not aware of any previous case in which the monarchy was directly involved in the violations.”

The league investigation, which stemmed from former Dolphins coach Brian Flores filing a racial discrimination lawsuit after his dismissal, was more ambiguous about Flores’ accusations that Ross offered him $100,000 per game to intentionally lose so Miami had a better place in the draft.

While the league found that Ross never followed through on the alleged show, he expressed several times that the draft position should take priority over the loss record.

Goodell—remember, he’s the guy who in Ridley’s case was so concerned with the integrity of the game—appears to have completely ignored Ross’ apparent belief that the tank was not a bad thing, comments that so annoyed Flores that he passed it on to write to the team’s top executives.

Flores, who is now an assistant at the Pittsburgh Steelers, noted that Ross avoided “any meaningful consequences” even though – and sounded like he was mocking Goodell here – “there is nothing more important when it comes to the game of football itself than integrity than the game.” “

Of course, Flores and anyone else who showed an interest in Goodell’s system should have known that Ross would get away with it.

Look no further than Washington Owner Dan Snyder, who has faced numerous allegations of a toxic work environment without facing any major punishment.

In a league that truly embraced integrity, Snyder would already be out the door and Ross wouldn’t be far behind.

But Goodell sends a different message.

Are you ready to play soccer?!


Paul Newbery is a national sports columnist for the Associated Press. Write to him at pnewberry (at) or at


More from AP NFL:,,

Leave a Comment