Cory's Corner: Roger Goodell Needs To Send A Message

Deshaun Watson's punishment must be strong for the sake of the rest of the league. 

It’s time for Roger Goodell to send a message. 

The NFL commissioner already has had an issue with Washington owner Daniel Snyder. And now he must decide what to do with Deshaun Watson. 

Domestic violence has been a huge problem in the NFL. According to The Charger Bulletin, 134 players have been arrested for domestic violence since 2000 — which accounts for 13 percent of all NFL arrests. 

And now Watson’s lawyer decided to put his foot in his mouth on Sports Radio 610 in Houston. “I don’t know how many men are out there now that have had a massage that perhaps occasionally there was a happy ending,” said Rusty Hardin. “Maybe there’s nobody in your listening audience that that ever happened to. I do want to point out, if it has happened, it’s not a crime.”

The first time I saw this, I was stunned. That isn’t what you want your lawyer to say when you’re facing 23 pending civil cases. Even if Hardin is technically right, that doesn’t make it OK.

And it certainly doesn’t build any social equity for Watson, who signed a $230 million deal with Cleveland in March.

Goodell has found new revenue streams for the Shield. Games are played on Thursdays, Sundays and Mondays. There are streaming audiences and games are also played in other countries. Rights fees revenue grew 12 percent to $1.8 billion this past season. 

The NFL is a money-making machine, but how many advertisers are going to want to support a product that has so many domestic issues?

That’s why Goodell needs to step in and wield his power. Especially after what Hardin recently said, Watson needs to be made an example of. Suspend him at least 13 games — with a good possibility of it being the entire season. 

Watson is a very good quarterback. I don’t think there are many people that would argue that. He’s a top seven quarterback with the ability to throw lasers and run to daylight. 

That’s why a strong punishment to Watson would send a message to the rest of the league. Maybe the rest of the league would finally understand how serious this issue is and take steps to correct it with better behavior. 

Goodell shouldn’t just do this for the health of today’s game. A game that is on the verge of potentially expanding globally and some even estimate that there could be a handful of expansion teams just to have enough gambling content for bettors. 

But what city, state or country for that matter, would want a team associated with a league that doesn’t take sexual impropriety seriously? I spoke to a Browns fan in March and she wasn’t happy about the Watson signing by saying she felt, “Forgotten by the team.”

Let’s not forget that the NFL has catered to women in recent years with Breast Cancer Awareness Month signage in October. With the fanbase nearly 45 percent women, it’s time for the NFL to take them seriously. 

And that’s where Goodell comes in. It’s been thrown under the carpet for far too long. 

Players continually plead for respect from teams when it comes time for a new contract. A strong punishment by Goodell would show much-needed respect for women. 
 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

7 points

Comments (34)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
pack1487's picture

June 04, 2022 at 07:16 am

It wouldn't send the message you're thinking it'll send. After what just happened in the Jonny Depp trial and the reaction to that trial, your suggestion is a strong punishment based on nothing but allegations and a statement his lawyer made to the press?

It found guilty, ban him from the league but strong punishment should come after he's found liable for a crime and not beforehand.

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ricky's picture

June 04, 2022 at 09:16 pm

There was a grand jury, and it found no grounds for criminal charges against Watson. Something like 19-20 of the women had agreed to settlements; only a few held out. So, there was no crime. A grand jury heard the evidence, weighed it, and decided to "no bill" any charges. And let's recall, a DA can allegedly "get a ham sandwich indicted." Watson definitely needs to learn how to treat women better; but suspending him 13 games or a full season? Would that really prevent any NFL player who was drunk, drugged up or both, from doing something stupid? It hasn't worked yet. And there is still a lingering question whether any sexual contact was consensual or not. This is a matter of perceptions, rather than facts. The league was too easy on Ray Rice, and paid a price in the court of public opinion. But that was a physical assault, not a "he said/she said" situation. 6-8 games would be my guess. And Watson agrees to sensitivity training/makes a large contribution to some charities that will help women in need.

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Vforrest's picture

June 04, 2022 at 07:34 am

Punishment like what he handed down to his buddy Robert Kraft for his massage?

Eight games is my guess.

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Lphill's picture

June 04, 2022 at 01:51 pm

Kraft was in an establishment that provided that service he wasn’t accused of forcing someone .

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jannes bjornson's picture

June 05, 2022 at 03:08 pm

A billionaire looking for a freebie.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 04, 2022 at 09:17 pm

Kraft was charged with misdemeanor solicitation. The charges were dropped. Watson hasn’t been charged with anything. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

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Bitternotsour's picture

June 05, 2022 at 07:25 pm

I'm without sin. I haven't forced anyone to give me a handjob, nor have I ever had sex that wasn't explicitly agreed to. Not sure how you roll, but forcing someone to have sex is bad.

Consent Leatherhead. Look into it.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 05, 2022 at 08:39 pm

Bitter not sour. I have repeatedly said that it is wrong to force people to do things against their will, like forcing them to wear useless masks or receive experimental vaccines. I totally agree with you.

But it’s equally wrong to judge others, because we ALL have aspects of our lives that we wouldn’t want strangers judging us.

Tolerance, compassion, forgiveness. Look into it. Neither of us knows what happened, so who are we to judge?

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Bitternotsour's picture

June 05, 2022 at 09:17 pm

so you equate coerced sexual congress to wearing a mask? you're clearly a deep thinker.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 06, 2022 at 01:38 am

Clearly you aren’t. It’s about forcing people to do something against their will. I’m sorry you can’t see that.

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blondy45's picture

June 04, 2022 at 08:23 am

Super article Cory, I totally agree. Integrity for the NFL is at stake. When a player has 23 civil cases against him, it is not an isolated problem. If an NFL QB can (and should) be punished for betting on dog fighting, this NFL QB should be punished not just by the NFL. Michael Vick had to serve 23 months in jail. Watson should be held accountable by the females who have charged him. This should have happened long ago. Bill Cosby finally got jail time for his abuse of women. Watson should serve time in jail. The NFL should be aware of the backlash it will receive if they do not properly suspend Watson. The legal system has to make the proper judgement when the evidence is there. So does Goodell. Very good article CORY!

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wildbill's picture

June 04, 2022 at 08:20 am

Cosby was drugging and raping women, hardly in the same ballpark. And it seems he has already been convicted without a trial. How about we wait for some facts to be presented. That being said I am in no way on his side but believe in innocent until PROVEN guilty

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Since'61's picture

June 04, 2022 at 08:38 am

I would not be surprised if Goodell doesn't do anything. He has 2-3 years to go before he retires if he sticks with that. He will not rock the boat on anything that could cause the league or the owners to lose money.

Granted Watson has yet to be convicted. However 23 accusations does indicate a pattern of behavior which the league should at least be concerned about. If the league really wants to make a statement about these domestic violation cases they should suspend Watson until there is a legal resolution. That may sound unfair since Watson has not been convicted however it would send a very clear message to the players about the league's position on these issues.

In 1963 Paul Hornung was suspended for the season for betting on his own team to win. Now, nearly 60 years later domestic violence is OK. Clearly I'm missing something.

But corporate greed is dictating everything in our society, whether it's domestic violence, gun control, inflation, fossil fuel, women's rights, the right to vote, etc. I'm hopeful Goodell does something but I'm managing my expectations because Goodell has always been what we call a "NATO", No Action, Talk Only. Thanks, Since '61

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blondy45's picture

June 04, 2022 at 11:04 am

Nicely put into understandable well thought out response, Since'61. As you stated above our society is in disrepair!

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SanLobo's picture

June 04, 2022 at 11:57 am

Right up front, Watson’s actions, if true, and their scope, come across as those of a dirtbag with some serious mental health issues. He is never going to be ‘convicted’ on anything related to these cases as the Houston DA dropped criminal charges after their investigation. But, he is facing Civil actions. Either he will pay out million$ and million$ to make those go away, or definitely if they go to civil court and they find for the plaintiff(s).
All that said, the number of folks getting down voted for essentially saying, innocent until proven guilty, is surprising and is indicative of societal issues writ large.

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marpag1's picture

June 04, 2022 at 08:54 am

Who on earth wants or expects Rodger Goodell ( ! ) and a platoon of greedy and for the most part despicable NFL franchise-owning jackasses to serve as the moral compass of America? Who says that the corporate suits of the NFL - of all people!! - are supposed to be the administrators and enforcers of justice and decency in America? Where does this wacko idea come from?

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13TimeChamps's picture

June 04, 2022 at 09:16 am

This is a really bizarre case. On the one hand, there are TWENTY THREE women accusing Watson. Any reasonable person would conclude there is no way all these women are making false accusations against him. On the other hand, TWO separate grand juries were convened and returned NO charges against Watson. How is that possible?

In Bill Cosby's case, the public knew exactly what the accusations were....he drugged and raped multiple women. In Watson's case, it's never really come out EXACTLY what he's been accused of doing during these massages, at least to my knowledge. All I've heard is inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature. What the hell does that mean exactly?

If he sexually assaulted these women, he deserves every and all punishments coming to him. But, then again, didn't Tampa Bay sign Antonio Brown after two different women accused him of sexual assault, including rape in one of the cases. I wouldn't hold my breath on Goodell doing the right thing here.

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DTowleJr's picture

June 04, 2022 at 10:07 am

And that is the crux of this problem, isn't it. A mixed message of accusers versus the judicial system. Did it take 23 separate incidents of the same thing before a whistle was blown? Did no one else wonder why female masseuses never did repeat business with this man? But, my biggest question is how far did Deshaun Watson have to page through the Yellow Pages to find some lawyer with the boys-will-be-boys slap-you-on-the-back mentality?

Believing that Rodger Goodell would dip a toe in this pool is really wishing upon a star. He does nothing unless a surge of opinion convinces him otherwise. There are many grumblers out there, but not enough of them to cause a stir. Too bad. We probably have to wait until more of the old guard dies off before we begin to recognize that the Good Old Boys network is just plain wrong?

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

June 04, 2022 at 10:50 am

Unless a super talented NFL player such as Ray Caruth who was convicted and sent to prison for 20 some years for hiring someone to kill his pregnant girlfriend, he will be allowed by the Commissioner and hired to play by NFL owners to play. There have been some disgusting acts by players like Michael Vick, Adrian Peterson, and others, but all wound up playing NFL football because they had the superior talent. If you are a 3rd string guard, you better walk the straight and narrow.

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HarryHodag's picture

June 04, 2022 at 11:08 am

If he's suspended for 'x' number of games, that's it. A punishment to consider is having to pay the women for the length of his time in the NFL. Lets say he pays 10 percent per year to the women. Given his $220 million contract, that would be about a million per woman per year. The punishment is on-going as opposed to losing a few game checks. That also sends a message league wide that bad behavior results in a long term financial loss for the player.

The Robert Kraft argument is valid. If that was you or me literally caught with our pants down we would have been jailed and fined. Shows what good lawyers can do for the well-off.

Cleveland wouldn't have made the deal unless there was a wink-wink agreement that Watson will be playing.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 04, 2022 at 09:13 pm

Wow. I guess we should just make up punishments instead of following the law?

And what did Kraft do that should have landed him in jail? He was at a “massage house” when it got raided, wasn’t he? And people go to jail for that, even with a decent lawyer and money to post bail?

Good lawyers are like good doctors….it’s not illegal to hire one.

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Curt's picture

June 05, 2022 at 07:52 pm

No idea what actually happened, and after two sets of folks couldn't figure it out, not sure Roger has the ability to do so either. He has already sat out a year in his prime. Haven't thought it through, but if he got paid not to play last year, maybe he should pay his salary to compensate taxpayers for the wasted trials and tribulations and still play this year.

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HawkPacker's picture

June 04, 2022 at 11:27 am

Don't forget about the Ray Rice saga back in 2014, I believe it was. It looks like Cleveland has a history of signing these types of players, such as Kareem Hunt and now aren't afraid to sign Watson? It looks like Cleveland has the mantra of 'Let's win at all costs'.

As far as Roger Goodell goes, we can only hope that he has learned from his penalizing Ray Rice for only two games back in the day. He admitted that 'he got it wrong' on that suspension.

There is a good article on the Ray Rice saga as follows:

https://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/ravens/bs-sp-ravens-ray-rice-partner...

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Oppy's picture

June 04, 2022 at 02:55 pm

Ray Rice, in perhaps the worst case of unfortunate wording I've ever seen in my entire life, had a televised press conference about his domestic violence charges where he walked up to the podium, took a deep breath, laid out his notes in front of him, and started by addressing the press with, "I have a lot of things I want to hit on."

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gkarl's picture

June 04, 2022 at 12:13 pm

If the Browns or any NFL team had any common sense they wouldn't sign any player until there legal issues are behind them and outcomes known, either criminal or civil. Yet the Browns give this guy over 200 million and fully guaranteed no less, what could they be thinking? All in, SB or bust? I don't want to win that badly.

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Oppy's picture

June 04, 2022 at 02:58 pm

Maybe its an indication of how much money some of these franchises actually have to throw around.

Remember, if it weren't for the unique structure of the Green Bay Packers, nobody would have ANY idea what NFL franchises earn. The 31 other teams all keep their books shut tight.

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jont's picture

June 04, 2022 at 04:40 pm

My view on Watson is similar enough to those expressed by the other cheeseheads. I can add only one other point.

"Pour encourager les autres" is supposed to be considered a bad thing. Those with power cannot be allowed to punish one person because of what someone else might do in the future. To be sure there is no empathy for Watson, but there is humanity in us. As befits his actions and no further.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 04, 2022 at 06:56 pm

He hasn’t been charged, despite two grand juries. He’s already lost plenty over this, and I’m not a fan of piling on. This should not be taken as an endorsement of Watson as a person or anything he may have done

As to the larger issue of domestic violence, every man needs to send out a clear message that beating women is not cool and you won’t stand for it.

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MainePackFan's picture

June 04, 2022 at 08:18 pm

Agreed LH. If the man did what they say he did he should be in jail. However, if they can't prove it with 22 cases why the hell should we believe the johnnycomelately cases 23 and 24.

Either the man is guilty or he isn't. So far they haven't convinced me he is.

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13TimeChamps's picture

June 04, 2022 at 09:41 pm

What exactly has he lost? He was paid his entire salary last year while not playing. His new contract with Cleveland is fully guaranteed.

I guess your definition of being piled on is 23 women making accusations against him. I'm sure they all got together and planned this.

I totally take it as an endorsement of Watson, but no surprise you're the one defending him while *not defending* him. Is that a Texas thing? No one is accusing him of beating anyone. Try to stay focused.

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marpag1's picture

June 05, 2022 at 11:13 am

"What exactly has he lost? He was paid his entire salary last year while not playing. His new contract with Cleveland is fully guaranteed."

What has he lost? Um, about $8 million dollars annually in endorsements, according to Forbes, having already lost sponsors such as Nike, Beats by Dre, Reliant Energy, HEB Grocery stores and Rolex. Are you really saying that you don't understand this?

"I guess your definition of being piled on is 23 women making accusations against him. I'm sure they all got together and planned this."

No, stud. He's talking about Rodger Goodell and the NFL adding on punishment in addition to anything that might be resulting from the court cases. Did you not see the title of this silly article which reads: "Rodger Goodell needs to send a message?" Did you think that Rodger Goodell was one of the 23 women making accusations?

"I totally take it as an endorsement of Watson, but no surprise you're the one defending him while *not defending* him. Is that a Texas thing? No one is accusing him of beating anyone. Try to stay focused."

Did you perhaps notice that Leatherhead said: AS TO THE LARGER ISSUSE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE..." Do you know what is meant by "larger issue?" Are you denying that sexual violence is often physical violence? Are you ignorant of the fact that several of Watsons accusers are alleging that he used PHYSICAL FORCE to compel them?

Congrats. You win "Senseless Post of the Year" award.

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13TimeChamps's picture

June 05, 2022 at 08:27 am

"Congrats. You win "Senseless Post of the Year" award."

Of the whole year!!?? Cool, do I get a ribbon?

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Leatherhead's picture

June 05, 2022 at 09:53 am

Thank you Marpag. I don’t respond to this guy because I think he’s mentally ill and completely obsessed with perpetuating a personal vendetta against me, but only a nitwit could think that Watson hasn’t lost a lot. And even though I can say something like I’m not endorsing Watsons behavior, he believes he can read my mind so it doesn’t really matter what I actually said.

Most of his posts are not about football, they’re about other posters, especially me.

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PatrickGB's picture

June 05, 2022 at 07:44 am

The whole thing is odd.

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