It isn’t easy being Warden. When Roger Goodell took over as commissioner of the NFL, he never could have expected to face such difficult player conduct issues. From a court order allowing Tank Johnson to leave the state to play in the Super Bowl, to dog fighting, to vehicular manslaughter, Goodell’s job hasn’t been a walk in the park. 2009 is no different. More than 20 players have been arrested since January. Currently, Goodell faces two of the strangest cases of his tenure as commissioner: Cleveland Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards alleged assault of a promoter outside a night club and Tom Cable’s alleged assault of an assistant coach.
As the law tries to sort these cases, all eyes will soon shift to the commissioner for a ruling. First, we look at Edwards. The alleged assault took place around 2:30 a.m. Monday morning outside the View Ultralounge & Nightclub. A spokesman for the NFL said, “We are looking into it as we would any such incident.” Though no charges have been filed, Goodell wouldn’t need an official arrest to punish Edwards, especially because this is strike two for the Cleveland wide receiver. Edwards was found guilty of driving 120 mph last November and was fined $150 and sentenced to 30 hours of community service.
The NFL personal conduct policy says: "It is not enough simply to avoid being found guilty of a crime. Instead, as an employee of the NFL or a member club, you are held to a higher standard and expected to conduct yourself in a way that is responsible, promotes the values upon which the League is based, and is lawful."
The man Edwards allegedly punched, Edward Givens, is a close friend of Cleveland Cavs star LeBron James. James called Edwards “childish” and said assaulting Givens was “like hitting one of my kids.” The high-profile nature of this case will no doubt bring negative attention to the NFL, something Goodell’s policy is designed to punish.
The curious case of Tom Cable remains up in the air as the Oakland Raiders try to figure out who would take over if Cable is arrested. Cable allegedly punched assistant coach Randy Hanson during training camp. Hanson was treated for a broken jaw and told police he’d been assaulted by Cable. Cable denies punching Hanson.
Of course, Roger Goodell is in a precarious position whether Cable is arrested or not because of the aforementioned conduct policy. Under the law, Cable has to be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt,” but with the NFL office, it only has to be proven that Cable shed negative light on the NFL by acting inappropriately.
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Matthew Coller is a staff member of the Business of Sports Network, and is a freelance writer. He can be followed on Twitter
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