- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 23, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The smell of Roger Goodell’s press conference still reeked throughout the NFL when Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti held his Monday.

To do what? Defend the team’s good name?

The Ravens press conference was a response to a Friday ESPN “Outside the Lines” report that team officials engaged in “a pattern of misdirection and misinformation” to cover up the details of the Ray Rice attack on his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer (now his wife), in an Atlantic City casino elevator, and lobbied Goodell to be lenient in his initial two-game suspension of Rice.

Bisciotti denied much of the report, and claimed the sources for it were “people who work for Ray. It’s Ray attorney, it’s Ray’s agents, and Ray’s friends they are building a case for reinstatement. The best way to build a case for reinstatement is to make everyone else look like they’ve been lying.”

I thought Ray Rice was the salt of the earth, according to Bisciotti.

Is Janay Rice — remember, the original victim — part of this misinformation campaign by the Rice camp?

Is she still the victim? If you listened to Bisciotti Monday afternoon, it seemed as if he thought team president Dick Cass and general manager Ozzie Newsome, both implicated in the ESPN report, were the victims.

“Like men, I think they are angry about their character being questioned,” Bisciotti said.

“Like men” is why the NFL is in this mess in the first place.

Bisciotti wants to question motives — the Rice camp feeding information to ESPN to serve their own motives. Then what is the motive for ESPN — a business partner with the NFL, with a $16 billion contract — to go after the league and one of its franchises?

I know what the motives for the Ravens would be. That’s fairly obvious — trying to protect one of their assets and either covering up that effort, or at the very least, practicing willful ignorance of what happened on that elevator.

It really doesn’t matter anymore who is lying. We’re at the point where you have to assume they all are. Add truth and the NFL’s credibility to the growing list of victims here.

Goodell attempted to try to repair that with his Friday-afternoon press conference but it came out as fraudulent and desperate. No one will believe the commissioner of the NFL anymore, and no one is going to buy the so-called “independent” report being conducted by former FBI boss Robert Mueller and overseen by two NFL owners who are close to Goodell.

The commissioner had been criticized for what many believed to be a light two-game suspension of Rice in July, and it continued until Goodell admitted that he didn’t “get in right” in his punishment of Rice. A few days later, TMZ released the video of Rice coldly knocking out his fiance, and everything changed in the NFL. The league and the Ravens ran away from Rice as quickly as they could, releasing him and putting the running back on indefinite suspension, but questions arose about what Goodell and the team knew and when they knew it.

Goodell went into hiding, backing out of appearing at a ceremony honoring Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson and failing to show up at the opening of the new San Francisco 49ers stadium. He finally surfaced Friday. He would have been better off staying out of sight.

“At our best, the NFL sets an example that makes a positive difference,” Goodell said. “Unfortunately over the last several weeks, we’ve seen all too much the NFL doing wrong. That starts with me. I said this before back on Aug. 28 and say it again now, I got it wrong in the handling of the Ray Rice matter and I’m sorry for that. I got it wrong on a number of levels, from the process that I led to the decision that I reached. But now I will get it right.”

But not getting it right before is unforgiveable — when you remember Kasandra Perkins.

How could you not “get it right” about domestic violence in 2012 when Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot Perkins, and then turned the gun on himself in the parking lot at Arrowhead Stadium? Maybe if there had been a video of Belcher killing his girlfriend — there was one of him taking his own life — Goodell might have “gotten it right” with the Rice case.

Goodell’s promises ring hollow to the Perkins family, who are going through the turmoil all over again of what happened to Kasandra as a result of the Rice controversy.

“This is a very painful time for the family,” said Viola Perkins, Kasandra’s grandmother, from her home in Austin, Texas. “The NFL should have done more the NFL should have done more.”

Yes, they should have. But “like men” they didn’t act — didn’t speak out — until they were attacked.

Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,”noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 radio andespn980.com.

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