National Football League commissioner, Roger S. Goodell, must soon resign.
To save the game, this NFL season, and the reputation of America's favorite sport, Mr. Goodell must quickly accept that his leadership, and what the NFL now symbolizes as, "a culture of violence against women," according to Terry O'Neill, the president of the National Organization for Women, along with other advocacy groups. The hashtag, #goodellmustgo, continues trending on social media, along with a widely circulated, "Get Your Game Face On!" NFL poster, featuring a picture of a mocked-up battered cover girl with a black eye.
True leadership is always from the heart, a deep connection between all vested participants in pursuit of a common vision, an aspirational goal. Leadership should never be personal, or to enhance or preserve one individual's reputation. Sincere leadership embodies a collective culture, and once the perception of a leader impedes the ability to pursue that shared purpose, it's time to step aside.
Mr. Goodell and the NFL team owners know that, and despite all outward appearances to the contrary, experience says that now, behind closed doors, candidates are actively, frantically and secretively, being vetted for an upcoming league vote to announce the next NFL commissioner, once Mr. Goodell resigns.
Further, because of the NFL's fumbled handling of the recent domestic abuses cases, commissioner Goodell's value to the league, the richest sports league in the world, has been greatly diminished. The definition of value is cost divided by expectation, and with an annual compensation of approximately $44 million, and a $105 million payday over the past five years, coupled with the rising salaries to NFL players, coupled with the escalating cost of attendance to fans, Mr. Goodell will increasingly be seen as a liability to the game, rather than an asset, a reputation he's enjoyed for the past eight years.
All leaders at some point in their career are faced with a sword they must either pick up and use to continue the great fight, or instead, recognize their reign is over, smile, give thanks for the opportunity of service, and fearlessly succumb for the greater good.
All things, including one's leadership, must end. Mr. Goodell began his career in 1982 with the NFL as an administrative intern, and now 32 years later, no one can argue that he would leave the league in better shape than he found it. And yet, because of the NFL's mishandling of the myriad domestic violence cases involving players, an issue that can no longer be tolerated, until Mr. Goodell steps down, his constructive contributions to football will quickly be forgotten.
This is no longer a one-person issue. It's not about Ray Rice, or Greg Hardy, the Carolina Panther defensive end convicted of domestic abuse this summer, or Adrian Peterson, the Minnesota Viking running back accused of reckless negligence to a child. This is a defining NFL crisis, which requires awareness, accountability, change, and healing, and none of that, as well intentioned as he may be, can come under the leadership of Roger Goodell.
It's time for Mr. Goodell to leave the field, allowing a new leader with a strong message of zero tolerance for domestic violence to emerge, and once again bring favor to the great game of football and the National Football League.