I can remember when Roger Goodell announced his decision to suspend Adam "Pacman" Jones for 16 games for violating the player conduct policy. I can remember applauding that decision.
Looking back, that was a mistake on my part.
No, it's not simply becase of the two-game suspension Ray Rice originally got. It is because, since that time, I can't figure out what the heck Goodell is doing to determine punishment under that policy, or player safety rules, or how to handle anything in the NFL in general, except with the idea that it must be about "damage control."
The lawsuit and research pertaining to concussions that NFL players have received, and how much the NFL knew about the long-term effects, has led Goodell to do one good thing, and that is to require that players who show symptoms of a concussion to be pulled from a game, and to get appropriate medical clearance before they may play again.
But it has also led to Goodell wanting to crack down on unsafe hits, leading to rules that no fan can really understand, as they scratch their heads as to why the referee would throw a flag in one instance and the player would get no additional punishment, but not throw a flag in another instant and Goodell to slap the player with a fine.
Furthermore, we still don't really know all the details regarding what the NFL did or didn't know about concussions.
And then there's that player conduct policy. Nobody seems to know what Goodell is really looking at when he decides punishment. One only need view the list of players implicated in domestic violence cases or crimes against women since Goodell's tenure began, to wonder exactly what Goodell is or isn't considering when he disciplines a player.
And do we need to revisit Bountygate? A Super Bowl championship team just might have been putting prices on the heads of other NFL players, so Goodell hands out punishment left and right, only for the players who were punished to appeal. Former commissioner Paul Tagliabue is called upon to hear the appeals, and proceeds to pretty much tell Goodell to get off his power trip.
Then there's Spygate, in which the evidence got destroyed and nobody can be certain about what Goodell really saw behind closed doors. There's also the recent lawsuit pertaining to painkillers and, in part, what the NFL knew about the dangers of trainers handing them out -- and in this case, we are likely only seeing the tip of the iceberg.
That brings us to Goodell's handling of the Ray Rice case. True, there are others who deserve some blame in how they handled it, but the problem Goodell has is that his handling of the Ray Rice case is just one of many in which he had his "damage control" mindset and didn't really grasp everything he was faced with... most of all, what really was going on with regards to whether or not he ever viewed the infamous elevator footage.
The 32 NFL owners are, indeed, Goodell's real bosses, and only they can ultimately decide his fate. But with at least a few people on Twitter declaring boycotts of NFL corporate sponsors -- and at least one of those sponsors acknowledging they are monitoring the situation -- you have to wonder how soon it will be before the owners start asking Goodell some serious questions.
Regardless of what Goodell really did or didn't know about Ray Rice's situation, his "damage control" mindset is not helping him. And it's making it less likely that I will ever applaud anything he does from this point forward.