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Although the NFL claimed victory based on a reasonable interpretation of the 22-page ruling, Tagliabue essentially body-slammed Goodell on the player discipline portion, heaping the blame on team officials.

“I fundamentally disagree that this is something that lies just with coaches and management,” Goodell said. “I do think their leadership position needs to be considered, but I also believe these players were in leadership positions, also.”

Refusing to apologize, vowing to continue operating as he alone sees fit, Goodell appears petty and small. The collective bargaining agreement gives him all power as judge, jury and executioner (not to mention the hearer of appeals), and that’s the players’ fault. But Tagliabue’s ruling left a chink in Goodell’s armor, proof positive that he can be wrong like anyone else.

He erred in his handling of the Saints‘ pay-for-play system. He erred in his excessive punishment of the players, including Scott Fujita, who was exonerated. He erred in not reconsidering during the appeal process. Mistakes happen, but he’s acting like he didn’t make any, acting like nothing has changed and he’s still the great Oz.

He’s not. But someone needs to wrap their arms around him and tell him everything will be OK.