Whitewashing in the NFL and the PGA Tour
By Torleif Sorenson on 9/8/14
"Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman."Nearly all of the talk about sports on Monday revolved around the emergence of the video below, which shows NFL star Ray Rice viciously assaulting his then-fiancée Janay Palmer with a round-house punch in an elevator at the now-closed Revel casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Palmer was knocked unconscious:
Elsewhere online on Monday, I and probably millions of other people vented with disgust, describing Rice as a despicable monster (using other, more colorful words) who belongs in jail. Rice very well could have caused her a traumatic brain injury and permanently disabled her. In a further astounding development, she actually married Rice less than two months later. In May, the Ravens organization posted the following tweet:
...as if it was Miss Palmer's fault for walking into a vicious roundhouse left punch.
On Monday afternoon, after the video was released and an unquenchable firestorm of cricism ensued, the Ravens organization "released" Rice from his contract. By mid-afternoon, Rice was also suspended indefinitely from the NFL. Shortly thereafter, the Ravens organization deleted their monumentally stupid Twitter post, but several news outlets preserved it for posterity.
The problem is that the NFL is well-known for having a strong staff of security specialists, attorneys, and former FBI investigators. Most of the commentators who have spoken question the idea that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome, and Atlantic County (New Jersey) prosecutor Jim McClain had not seen that video before this morning. If future evidence shows that anyone of them did, then the league, commissioner Goodell, and the prosecutors in Atlantic County, New Jersey have a gargantuan credibility problem.
But as we have reported previously, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem has refused to allow the same "sanitizing sunshine" to be cast upon his organization. Even though rumors have Dustin Johnson's use of cocaine have swirled for the last three years, Finchem has imposed an embargo on any release of any relevant information.
Johnson returned to the Tour in May of 2012 following a three-month absence for what was advertised as "a back injury" but was strongly suspected of actually being a suspension.
On the morning of August 1, we reported that Johnson announced that he was "taking a leave of absence" because of "personal challenges."
Just a few hours after that, a ticking time-bomb finally exploded: Golf Magazine reported that Johnson had actually been suspended for cocaine use — and that it was not his first positive drug test. Also publicized were reports of his wild lifestyle that included revelations of an affair with the wife of another PGA Tour player. Other comments posted online described Johnson's fiancée, L.A. socialite Paulina Gretzky, as essentially being "cocaine in a humanoid form."
But PGA Tour commissioner Finchem continued to stonewall the press — and to this day, continues to deny that any suspension or suspensions of Johnson have ever occurred.
Just days after that news came to light, sportswriter Mike Lupica penned an excellent column in which he excoriated Finchem and the PGA Tour for attempting to whitewash any suspensions of Tour players.
Finchem's policy is especially indefensible since we have already seen episodes of Tour players disqualifying themselves or otherwise withdrawing from Tour events for just the appearance of a possible rules violation. Most recently, Cameron Tringale obtained a retroactive DQ from the PGA Championship at his request. This past weekend, Keegan Bradley said that a possible improper drop during the first round of the BMW Championship "was eating [him] alive," even though PGA Tour rules boss Slugger White absolved him of any rule violation the very next day. On Saturday morning, Bradley withdrew anyway.
The numerous reports from inside and outside the PGA Tour of Dustin Johnson's out-of-control life stand by themselves as showing that commissioner Finchem and the player advisory board need to completely reverse course on keeping suspensions private. Otherwise, embarrassing episodes like Dustin Johnson will cloud the sport that is often described as "the ultimate meritocracy."
The Ravens organization and the NFL senior leadership continue to hide under their proverbial desks on Monday. At 7:30 p.m. EDT, the Ravens trotted out coach John Harbaugh, whose comments were almost completely useless. The Ravens and the NFL continue to stand by their story that nobody had seen the before it was released this morning.
And as this column is posted, word is that TMZ's Harvey Levin says that the NFL knew of the in-elevator video footage, showing Rice's criminal assault on his now-wife:
"When you wake up tomorrow, go to our website, and you will see what the NFL didn't do," Levin said. "I believe they turned a blind eye to it. The NFL knew this surveillance video existed, they knew the casino has surveillance video, and we will explain [on Tuesday] why we know they knew that — but they did. They didn't do anything to look at this video.If this is true, then all h-e-double hockey sticks is about to break loose.
And as if PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem needs any more examples, the NFL's senior leadership was nowhere to be seen on Monday — save for a tweet from Greg Aiello. Commissioner Roger Goodell, SVP Adolpho Birch, NFL chief attorney Jeffrey Pash, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, Ravens president Dick Cass, and Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome — every last one of them was hiding from the news media.
Stupidly, the Ravens instead trotted out coach John Harbaugh for a press conference in which Harbaugh appeared 15 minutes late, then failed to provide even one iota of worthwhile piece of information that had not already been reported.
Commissioner Finchem should at least attempt to save face for the PGA Tour and ditch his policy of delaying, denying, and whitewashing.
Pronto. No more excuses.
Finally, if you see or suspect that you have seen a case of domestic violence and/or child abuse, say something. Talk to any law enforcement officer. Talk to any mental health professional or any doctor or nurse.
At the very least, if you are uncertain, take some time to visit the web sites of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Love Is Not Abuse.
"Take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."
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Commissioner Roger Goodell, SVP Adolpho Birch, NFL chief attorney Jeffrey Pash, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, Ravens president Dick Cass, and Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome.
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