After recent incidents that put the NFL in a negative light, the league sent a memo to agents about a “new world of NFL investigation.” If Deflategate is any indication, it’s that the NFL and the one-man judge, jury and executioner of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will not let anything stand in his way. Even if that means his rules are more severe than U.S. law.
One big component to this new era is that the NFL will investigate “non-criminal incidents” and “accusations never brought to the police.” In addition, “all social media, texts and emails will be part of NFL investigations.” By comparison, police at least have to have your permission or a warrant proving probable cause in order to search a mobile phone. For the NFL, there is apparently no such thing.
Reading this, I have two issues. One, the NFL investigating accusations that aren’t brought to the police is a red flag. If there’s a situation that should go to the police, it should go to the police. I don’t want Roger Goodell to be the one investigating if law enforcement should be on it instead. Roger Goodell has an economics degree. I’m not asking a police officer about economics for the same reason I’m not asking Goodell about investigating a potential criminal investigation.
The other issue is that I don’t, and I assume NFL players don’t, trust Roger Goodell in making the right decisions in things like these. After screwing up the Ray Rice investigation, Deflategate and many other things I haven’t listed, Goodell has lost the trust to actually be an impartial and fair evaluator of whether or not somebody did anything wrong. That’s a red flag if the NFL is making players give up their phones as well as their social media accounts. This may be necessary for the NFL to gather information and I don’t necessarily have a problem with it if it’s done right, but I have a problem with the person who’s getting that information than the process. And the realistic possibility that the NFL is overstepping their bounds simply because they can.
Maybe Roger Goodell will prove me wrong and this new method will be great. But like with many players, Goodell is going to have to prove to me his methods have changed and he can either be a fair an impartial judge or he includes more people to collaborate and make things more fair that way.