In 2013, the 32 teams in the NFL split a record $6 billion in league revenue, a 4.3 percent rise from 2012. By most metrics, the NFL easily is the most popular professional sport in America today.
For that reason, it is highly unlikely that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will ever be shown the door, no matter how buffoonish his actions.
The saga of Ray Rice, which came to a head Monday with the Ravens terminating his contract after TMZ released brutal video of his domestic violence attack on his then-fiancee, has at least threatened Goodell's position. How can the man in charge of an entire professional sports league conduct a PR campaign so tone-deaf to the issue of domestic violence that both the league and the Ravens franchise became the scourge of America, for at least a day? The shocking chain of events had many wondering whether Goodell was fit for the job.
A four-guest panel — ESPN's Jane McManus, ThinkProgress' Travis Waldron, ESPN New York's Robin Lundberg and University of Pennsylvania professor Salamisha Tillet — joined HuffPost Live on Tuesday to discuss the lasting effects of Rice's actions on the NFL, and what it would actually take for Goodell to be fired.
"I have a hard time imagining Roger Goodell falling because of this incident," Waldron told host Alyona Minkovski. "He still serves at the pleasure of owners. It's still a largely healthy league for those owners. He has weathered a lot of criticism over concussions and a lot of other issues. This is certainly something that has been poorly handled by the league and by Roger Goodell."
A key caveat in this whole story is whether the NFL, mainly Goodell, saw the second video before deciding on Rice's original, paltry two-game suspension. Goodell says the NFL requested the video from New Jersey police officials; said officials refute that statement. TMZ says that Goodell never asked for the video.
"If he had seen the tape, and it's revealed that they saw it and then still went two games, that would be the end of him as commissioner," Lundberg said. "Roger Goodell came in as the sheriff. ... He was known as the commissioner with the strong disciplinary actions. For this to happen, it kind of goes against everything he was supposed to stand for."
Ultimately, it's up to the league's 32 owners to decide whether Goodell can keep his job or not. If Goodell can endure this, it's hard to think of much that can send him out the door.
Catch the rest of the clip above, and watch the full HuffPost Live conversation here.
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