On Tuesday, both Rob Manfred and Roger Goodell were thrust into the spotlight for different reasons. MLB was celebrating the first game of the 2021 World Series, while the NFL was having its owner's meetings in New York. Both men were asked questions about sensitive topics. Both men managed to find the worst answers possible.
First was Goodell, who was fielding questions after the owner's meetings yesterday afternoon and was asked about the Washington Football Team report. There has been public pressure on the NFL to release all their findings after the Jon Gruden incident; whoever leaked Gruden's emails (effectively causing his dismissal) cracked open Pandora's Box. If there are over 600,000 emails and it only took a hundred to get Gruden fired, what other horrors did the league stumble upon?
Goodell said they don't plan to release the findings because he and the league want to protect the anonymity of the women who were questioned about workplace harassment for the investigation. This is obviously a weak defense and twists the concept of anonymity to suit the NFL's purposes. There are ways to protect the identities of the individuals named in the report while still releasing the findings, and Goodell's comments were immediately condemned by the same individuals he claimed he was trying to protect.
We will wait with bated breath to see what excuse the NFL comes up with next, because barring a court order there's no chance they're releasing the findings. Which makes everybody think they're hiding something, and something really bad. The league is probably just hoping people will forget about it.
Later that night, Rob Manfred tried to make that happen. The Atlanta Braves are in the Fall Classic and The Chop is once again under the national spotlight. The celebration has been heavily criticized over the years for being insensitive to Native American culture. Manfred was asked about it and defended its existence by saying MLB does not market nationally, but rather to regional fanbases. So... whatever works, works. I guess.
Manfred's statement was more convoluted than Goodell's but both men's responses were equally reprehensible. Hiding behind weak excuses to avoid doing the right thing.
Tuesday. A bad day for commissioners.