NFL's Goodell damaged but not out after 'Deflategate' ruling

Thu Sep 3, 2015 7:17pm EDT
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By Steve Ginsburg

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The NFL's defeat in the drawn-out "Deflategate" saga marked the latest setback in Roger Goodell's nine-year run as commissioner.

But as long as the National Football League continues to reap hefty profits, he is seen as unlikely to lose the league's top job anytime soon.

U.S. District Judge Richard Berman on Thursday threw out Goodell's four-game suspension of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady over his alleged role in a scheme to deflate footballs used in a victory that put the Patriots in last season's Super Bowl.

Within hours of the ruling, the NFL appealed the order vacating Brady's four-game suspension.

But the case had become another test of Goodell's authority to discipline players after already having suffered reversals in the past year over the league's domestic abuse punishments meted out to Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy.

Boston College law professor Fred Yen, a sports law expert, said that with all of his miscalculations, it is possible Goodell "will be viewed as the commissioner who actually weakened the commissioner's office, not strengthened it."

"In a series of decisions, he was successfully second-guessed by the players so often that he not only undermined his own personal ability, but the ability of future commissioners to impose discipline," Yen said.

Last year, Goodell was excoriated for handing out light punishments to players accused of domestic abuse. But even when Goodell toughened the penalties, he ultimately lost out.   Continued...

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell exits the Manhattan Federal Courthouse in New York, August 31, 2015.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid