Mystery novels and movies are great the first time through, and the really excellent ones can squeeze out two or three more before it becomes clear that even someone with a lousy memory can remember who did the murder. And if you know the murderer, you don’t have a mystery. You barely have character development, and we should know. We have authors on staff. They know this stuff.
Thus it is with a tired sigh that we note NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has decided to put out one of his famous memos explaining what someone else already shoved two knuckles into his eye about—and it will follow with an investigation, a committee, a committee study, and new initiatives issued forth from that committee to match all the other old investigations, committees, studies, and initiatives that came before it.
In other words, this is your 50th viewing of The Sting, and amazingly it ends like the previous 49 did, with Paul Newman getting all of his pals to help swindle Robert Shaw. Who would have guessed?
Goodell is powerless to actually do anything, of course, and there really is no indication at this point that he would if he could. He’s been paid roughly $440 million over his 15 years on the job to run this bait-and-switch. But when he isn’t high-handing the players’ union or extorting the networks, he does get paid to come up with redecorating ideas for the league’s retrograde social failures, and he has spent more time trying to fool people into thinking that his 32 bosses are interested in hiring diversity beyond eldest sons and youngest sons than anything else. He has, of course, failed every time, which is why he’s at it again.
So here we are again, with a new memo—the Flores Memo, if it needs an identifier—to consider anew why all his other memos on hiring have been met with spit and middle fingers from the folks who have paid him all that jack. I mean, we already know why. Because they don’t want to, don’t have to, and they are willing to do anything to avoid ever having to do so. There. Study complete. Nice job, Rog. Here’s $12 million for upkeep on the cottage helipad.
There is, however, a bigger question, and it is even more elemental. When exactly does Goodell think that running the same line of poorly sculpted bull offal again and again will begin to lose its effectiveness, if not its pungency? Does he really believe that everyone out there is still stupid?
The answers would seem to be clear. Never, and absolutely.
First, the power of a company to investigate itself is essentially the right to do nothing—except punish the whistleblowers. An NFL investigation is by definition a lie, and a memo that promises another investigation to determine what is wrong, while all the other investigations have only led to the current one, is merely the bumper music to the new lie. It is Goodell’s job to sell this new memo as though it were a new initiative, when in fact it is all the old lack of initiative initiatives that has led to this one.
Second, the memo can’t be very well considered if it suddenly emerged four days after Flores started catapulting lawyers over the Park Avenue moat. A serious attempt to fix a problem takes more than four days, and a half-assed attempt to chin-drool on a problem shouldn’t need four days. In other words, Goodell tried to find a middle spot between knee-jerking an idea nobody would believe in and being excoriated for trying to make the problem time itself out. So, four days after the league said Flores’ claims were “without merit,” Goodell released the memo that all but stated that they indeed were sodden with merit.
In short, Goodell’s not even trying to construct a plausible non-action plan any more. Someone’s going to notice that his heart’s no longer in the bullshit distribution part of the job and cut his 2022 salary below $45 million.
But let’s walk you through it anyway to see that this is a much flimsier work than his usual standard. The memo, titled “Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion,” already has an answer: “Three Percent And Shrinking.”
“Racism and any form of discrimination is contrary to the NFL’s values,” Goodell wrote, autocorrecting “central and habitual” to “contrary.”
“We have made significant efforts to promote diversity and adopted numerous policies and programs which have produced positive change in many areas, however we must acknowledge that particularly with respect to head coaches the results have been unacceptable”
The lard-fisted attempts to make the concepts “positive change” and “unacceptable” as congruent thoughts, which is particularly inept. Either they made it better or they didn’t. They didn’t and Goodell just said so. Jesus on two sticks, Rog, fifth graders are laughing at this stuff.
“We will reevaluate and examine all policies, guidelines and initiatives relating to diversity, equity and inclusions.”
And of course, repeat them.
“While the legal process moves forward, we will not wait to reassess and modify our strategies to ensure that they are consistent with our values and longstanding commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.”
If by “moves forward,” he means will be delayed, denied and bled out as our lawyers see fit. Oh, and eventually pleaded out, too.
“In particular, we recognize the need to understand the lived experiences of diverse members of the NFL family to ensure that everyone has access to opportunity and is treated with respect and dignity.”
Indeed, they recognize the need for someone to understand something, something, word salad arglebargle “respect and dignity,” but it won’t involve any of the defendants or their particular world view as the NFL being a monarchy and the football operations departments as a festival of cronyism. Bet your ass on that one.
He also said that matters of game integrity, like tanking and offering to pay coaches to lose games, “will be reviewed thoroughly and independently,” which won’t be reviewed, not thoroughly, and definitely not independently. The NFL wants oversight like they want a phone call from a doctor wishing to speak personally about test results. They paid the city and county of St. Louis nearly $800 million to avoid oversight. Danny Snyder worked a deal so that his email superhighway of character deficiencies wouldn’t be released to any overseers. Goodell is all the front piece they want, and he is as transparent as a gravy-covered brick.
Except for moments like these, when he issues memos that contain promises of investigations conducted by committees who will create findings that will never be found. It is then that he shows you his transparent side, which you can look right through to get a slightly more opaque view of the gravy-covered brick.
It’s just that we’ve seen this dozens of times before, and the only thing it demonstrates is that the owners are not yet ready for him to hold the press conference he desperately wishes to, the one in which he morphs into Rocky Wirtz and shoots off fireworks shaped like middle fingers for the nation to see and comprehend in their full majesty.
In the meantime, welcome you to the 51st viewing of The Sting, and Goodell wants you to think of himself as Paul Newman and Brian Flores as Robert Shaw. This is indeed their commitment to the same old scam, a desperate attempt to make you willing to endure the 52nd.