Leitch On The NFL: 'This Is How Empires Fall'

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Much attention has been paid to the NFL's bungling of the Ray Rice situation. For Will Leitch, senior writer for Sports on Earth, the drama surrounding the NFL and Rice has created a public relations fiasco as bad as anything the league has ever faced during a season.

"This is the first time, really, an off-field situation has affected the way we're watching the games," Leitch told Bill Littlefield.

The NFL is either being deceitful or willfully ignorant of a major societal issue that they seem to be perpetuating.

Will Leitch, Sports on Earth

Leitch argued in an article for Sports on Earth on Thursday that situation is a mess and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is responsible for it.

"I made the comparison of Goodell to almost a dogmatic, moralist politician in a lot of ways," Leitch said. "Goodell put himself and his league in this position of, 'We are the hammer; we are the law.'"

"I think he's kind of getting the comeuppance of that," Leitch added.

Some have wondered whether ESPN and other media outlets closely linked with the NFL are even capable of discussing the situation in an unbiased manner. Leitch, writing about this week's Monday Night Football telecast anchored by ESPN veteran Chris Berman, likened the situation to "handing a toddler a blowtorch."

During the second quarter of the game between San Diego and Arizona, Berman and color analyst Trent Dilfer were attempted to adequately address the Rice situation until Berman was interrupted by a blocked punt. Rice wasn't mentioned again for the rest of the game.

"The problem was, they weren't ready to deal with this, and I think they're still behind on it," Leitch said.

[sidebar title="The NFL In Crisis" width="630" align="right"]Bill Littlefield looks at the latest developments in the ongoing Ray Rice / NFL saga.[/sidebar]In recent years, the NFL has thrived despite controversies including concussion lawsuits, performance-enhancing drug suspensions and player arrests. Could the Rice saga bring the NFL to a tipping point where these missteps mortally wound the league? Or is the NFL too big to fail?

"This is the first time it looks like the NFL is either being deceitful or willfully ignorant of a major societal issue that they seem to be perpetuating," Leitch said. "For them to not understand this — frankly, this is how empires fall — thinking that you are too big to have to go by the rules. The NFL has always kind of doubled down on its policies."

"I think it's really the only strategy they've ever had," Leitch added. "And I think it's just going to get them in more trouble."


This segment aired on September 13, 2014.


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