Did NFL commissioner Roger Goodell cross the line when he helped New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan deal with troubled wide receiver Santonio Holmes?
In his new book, Play Like You Mean It, which was published on May 3, Ryan explains how he contacted Goodell shortly after the Jets traded for Holmes in April 2010 in the hopes that the commissioner could help Holmes obtain a better public image following his numerous off-field incidents. Goodell complied and stopped by Jets headquarters to meet with Ryan and Holmes after a mini-camp practice, according to The Boston Globe.
But this is where the story becomes cloudy.
According to Ryan's book, the coach asked Goodell to berate him in front of Holmes for his own off-field incidents — namely Ryan's obscene gesture at an MMA event that made tabloid rounds — to make an example of him.
Ryan then had Goodell berate Holmes for his off-field trouble — which included a violation of the league's substance abuse policy and a pending lawsuit stemming from an incident in which Holmes allegedly assaulted a woman at an Orlando nightclub.
The ploy by Ryan was to show Holmes that the two had similar off-field problems and needed each other going forward.
Greg Bedard of The Boston Globe said that Goodell's assistance in helping Ryan and Holmes bond goes too far.
"The ability to interact with your players, and to get them to play at the top of their ability, is as much a part of a coach's skill set as drawing up a game plan," explains Bedard. "Would Goodell ever give Ryan tips on how to defend Tom Brady? Of course not. So he shouldn't be lending a hand in his relationships with his players."
At the NFL owners meeting in Indianapolis last week, Goodell was asked whether Ryan's description of the conversation was accurate. The commissioner seemed to shrug off criticism of any wrongdoing.
"I don't look at it that way," Goodell said. "I look at is as I was asked to try to help a young man who I like very much, and we're going to continue to try to do whatever we can to make sure that he's in the best position to continue his career and do the right things on and off the field."
Bedard doesn't see it that way, and questions if the Jets' location in New York allowed for Ryan to reach out to Goodell for special help.
"Would Goodell have been as willing to travel all the way to Seattle for a 20-minute meeting to help Seahawks coach Pete Carroll forge a bond with running back Marshawn Lynch?" asks Bedard. "Would Goodell be willing to do such a thing for all 32 teams? If the answer to either question is "no" or even "maybe," then Goodell shouldn't have done it for the Jets. It sets a terrible precedent."
So what do you think? Did Goodell overstep his boundaries in helping Rex Ryan? Leave your opinions in the comment section below.
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