NFL Image Freefall Gossip: LT Arrested In Rape Investigation
Former New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor was arrested on Thursday, May 7, 2010, in a prostitution investigation in New York. It is alleged that Taylor was soliciting an underage prostitute–ouch! According to a report on ESPN, the 16-year-old girl had been beaten up and and forced into prostitution by a man who drove her to the hotel specifically to meet Taylor.
He’s paid his bail and he’s awaiting the legal process, but he’s an NFL Hall of Famer. How does the NFL deal with such a “gash” on its integrity?
Roger Goodell has choices, but he also has to look at history to decide how to deal with retired players. After all, he’s the new sheriff in town and he brought on all this attention.
The NFL can stay in its image freefall or it can follow these simple rules and avoid this kind of gossip in the future. It’s one thing to hate bad press, but it’s another to bring it on yourself.
LT Lost Our Respect–But He’s Good for the News
Lawrence Taylor used to be “the man.” He anchored one of the best defenses in football for a decade. He was the MVP. He was the Defensive Player of the Year.
LT changed the way teams played defense and the way offenses game-planned for defenses. He’s an All-Timer. He was a hero, a demi-god to lots of kids from my generation.
Now he’s accused of statutory rape.
I feel like one of our childhood heroes has fallen hard. I know he’s had run-ins with the law before for drugs and tax evasion, but nothing like this. It reminds me of Kirby Puckett.
Puckett was a great baseball player—a Hall of Famer. The Twins, however, had to hide his dark side so he could get in the Hall of Fame.
They spent many years making sure his image was clean so the baseball writers wouldn’t hold him out of the Hall. The Giants and the NFL have tried to say that LT’s off-the-field stuff doesn’t have anything to do with the game.
However, it matters. It’s always mattered, but it really matters to Roger Goodell.
Shortly after Kirby got into the Hall of Fame, all his misdeeds came out. The Twins tried to protect him, but the Giants and the NFL let LT hang out there in the press. This begs the question: Does the NFL not care about its players?
Yes, it does, but only to a point. There’s only so much someone can do when you’re screwing up this badly. It isn’t in the best interest of the Giants to shield LT.
What could they possibly gain? It would make them look like accomplices—and that would further tarnish the image of the league—which is getting worse by the day.
Inviting the Wrong Kind of Attention
When Roger Goodell decided to put his foot down, I think he had good intentions. He meant well, but that has all backfired.
If you’re painting your house and a can of paint falls on you, you wouldn’t run in the street saying “Look at me, I’m covered in paint!” You’d go and wash it off.
Well, paint is falling left and right in the NFL and every time it happens, Roger Goodell says, “Look! More paint!”
I think he’s unintentionally bringing more attention to the league’s bad press by choosing to be so vocal.
Haven’t you noticed how every time someone screws up, the NEXT headline is “Player X to meet with Goodell.” This meeting shouldn’t be news!
It becomes news because Goodell gave someone on his staff something juicy to leak to the press. As much as we don’t want to admit it—being the “source” sounds like fun!
Goodell created hundreds of new “sources” as soon as he made this conduct policy so transparent. Now everyone needs to know every gory detail.
Every time I find one of these headlines I’m going to have something new to run with. I love it because Roger Goodell is making my job easier and he doesn’t even know it!
I don’t blame him for not wanting to cover for someone who’s accused of statutory rape, but I think he missed the mark.
Can You Rule Over Everybody?
Since this issue has come up, it raises the question–can Goodell police everybody? If retired players are members of the NFLPA, can this work in his favor?
I bet he’d like to have the next CBA state that there is a new conduct policy for retired players. He could even go so far as to have this affect Hall of Fame voting.
It sounds stupid, but he CAN police everybody. It is possible to do so. The owners and players are at odds—but the players need to get paid. They’ll eventually agree to something for fear they’ll be locked out of the game.
I’m not saying that LT is the root of all evil, but he might become the example. Michael Irvin had to wait to get in the HOF because the sportswriters thought he was a bad boy.
How long could Roger Goodell make a retired player wait before getting on the ballot? He could impose “voting suspensions” in the same numbers as game suspensions.
Retired Player X gets arrested for crack possession. Goodell suspends him from HOF voting for 4 years. That’s harsh, but can’t you see it?
Imagine if Roger Goodell had that choice. He could pick and choose who gets on the ballot based on their “retired” behavior. He would have control of everything–not just Madison Avenue.
Sir Charles Would Be Proven Wrong
When Charles Barkley said he wasn’t a “role model,” I bet Roger Goodell broke his TV. Goodell believes ALL these players should be held to a higher standard.
I think this is a cause he’s willing to take on. The question isn’t, “Will LT go to jail?” It is, “Will Roger Goodell usurp control of players’ retired lives?”
That’s a tough pill to swallow. I don’t think Charles Barkley could handle David Stern breathing down his neck forever. Could Pacman Jones or Ben Roethlisberger handle that heat from Goodell?
I don’t think so.
This would either bring more principled and better-behaved players into the league—or it will kill the league as we know it.
Why play football without a guaranteed contract when you can play baseball or basketball? Charlie Ward did it. How long before other star athletes shy away from football?
When the Commissioner demands “role-model-for-life”—dudes are going to start looking elsewhere.