During the Super Bowl week, I wrote a piece criticizing Rick Mease of The Washington Post for writing a biased article in favor of Roger Goodell. I found this to be relevant today during the NFL draft, where Goodell is in the spotlight and gives more bro hugs than humanly possible in one night. Below is the piece I wrote.
In the upcoming weeks, there will be a plethora of articles being written on the different story lines of the Super Bowl. The Harbaugh brothers are coaching against each other, this is Ray Lewis’ last game and both teams are full of fire power. Another story line that is being pushed under the rug is NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s return to New Orleans. Goodell’s decision on the “Bounty Gate” case against the New Orleans Saints tarnished the team’s public outlook and ruined their record. He is far from a popular face at the site of this year’s Super Bowl.
Goodell is the authority figure of the NFL and needs to be seen in a positive light on football’s biggest stage. Ironically, Rick Maese of The Washington Post wrote an article on all the positive sides of Goodell just over a week before the Super Bowl. This is the same case as running a Ray Lewis article on his legal life. The timing is biased against both Lewis and the Ravens. With the Super Bowl coming up and being in New Orleans, this story is biased in favor of Goodell.
In a situation as image crushing as this, Goodell’s public relations team could certainly be looking into options to make him out to be a good guy. A highly respected and read newspaper like The Washington Post could be the perfect outlet to clean up Goodell’s image.
The headline of this article reads: “Super Bowl XLVII: Roger Goodell, a principled politician, leads the NFL through tumultuous times.” Two big statements in the headline catch the reader’s eyes: “Principled politician” and “leads.” These are strong statements that are immediately biased in favor of Goodell. To call Goodell a “principled politician,” easily sets up an argument against that statement.
Goodell has been called “a crook” and “the devil” by Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison and bashed publicly by many other players. Would a “principled politician” lock out the referees, which changed the outcomes of games? A “principled politician” probably would not kick out the New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton and linebacker Jonathan Vilma for the entire season either. If former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue did not re-instate Vilma, he would have lost $2.6 million. To “lead” the NFL as a “principled politician,” you cannot be publicly bashed by your sport’s players while dealing with different law suits.
The wording and statements of this article lean heavily on a positive bias toward Goodell as well. Maese writes: “Goodell is constantly cleaning up messes and deflecting endless controversies.” That is a false statement. Goodell is creating controversies. Locking out the referees and “Bounty Gate” are just two examples. While Goodell may be making the game safer by urging the referees to call more penalties on “illegal” hits, he is certainly creating controversy with those decisions and the fines that he hands out. Mease also calls Goodell “the most powerful man in U.S. sports.” The statement is bold and also biased towards Goodell. The commissioner may be the most hated by his sport’s players, but that does not make him “the most powerful man in U.S. sports.”
The timing of this article is what makes Mease a biased writer in a positive light for Goodell. The timing, headline and statemenst are all biased in his favor. If Goodell had his public relations team take control of this, I would not be surprised. Goodell may be the only person in sports that can go from the players’ biggest “bro” to their biggest enemy within months.