clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

An Open Letter to Roger Goodell

Dear Commissioner Goodell,

Let it go, man.  Seriously.  Just let it go before you and the National Football League embarrass yourselves any more than you already have.

You see, Mr. Goodell, the trial of Minnesota Vikings defensive tackles Pat Williams and Kevin Williams has officially been in court since Monday morning, and some facts have come to light in this case that you and the rest of the people that work in the National Football League's offices should be flat out humiliated about.  Given past precedent, you probably won't be, given your propensity for thinking that you're above the law and untouchable, but just play along with me for a bit here anyway, won't you?

Yesterday, John Lombardo. . .who has the minor, menial little task of overseeing the National Football League's anti-steroid policy, testified that between 2005 and 2007, "more than six" other NFL players had tested positive for diuretics.  And how many games had those "more than six" players been suspended by the National Football League for?  With the way that you're pursuing Pat and Kevin Williams, one would think you were doing so because you were attempting to apply an already-established standard for such violators of the drug policy.

However, that's not the case, as those "more than six" players that had tested positive for diuretics were suspended for a grand total of ZERO games by the National Football League.  In fact, according to Pro Football Talk, Dr. Lombardo testified that in 2006, when several players had tested positive for Bumetanide specifically after having taken StarCaps, the National Football League put them in something called "probable cause" testing rather than suspending them for four games.  I would assume that "probable cause" testing is something along the lines of "hey, let's make sure these guys really aren't taking steroids or other performance enhancers," but if I'm wrong on that, someone can feel free to correct me.

If the league's incompetence on this matter had stopped right there, maybe the damage could be controlled on this one and you could still get away with this garbage, although the rules of basic fairness dictate that you shouldn't.  However, it gets worse due to something that has long been alleged in this case.  Again, according to Pro Football Talk:

But it gets even better -- or, from the league's perspective, worse.  Judge Larson also has acknowledged that, as consistently alleged by the players, the NFL knew that StarCaps had been spiked with Bumetanide but ultimately told no one that StarCaps secretly contained a prescription medication that has serious potential side effects, like heat stroke, brain swelling, and cardiac arrest.

"Mr. Crouch, a toxicologist at Aegis, found Bumetanide in StarCaps and informed [Adolpho] Birch and Dr. Lombardo of the results," Judge Larson wrote.  "In November 2006, Mr. Crouch volunteered to notify the FDA that StarCaps contained Bumetanide.  Dr. Lombardo agreed that the FDA should be notified.  Birch, however, claimed responsibility for warning the FDA.  Birch never did so."


"Birch did not inform the NFLPA that StarCaps contained Bumetanide, but did inform it that players were prohibited from providing endorsements for Balanced Health Products, the distributor of StarCaps," Judge Larson wrote.  "Birch also sent a memorandum to each team's president, general  manager, and head athletic train stating that players were not to endorse Balanced Health Products."  But Judge Larson also pointed out that, in past situations, the league had sent specific notices to players "alerting them of products posing health risks to players."

See, at this point I would ask what exactly your reasoning was for keeping this hidden from the NFLPA, but I've decided that I really don't care about your reasoning, because no excuse that you could come up with could possibly be considered a good one, particularly after your inconsistent application of the standards has been brought to light.

Really, Mr. Goodell, did you think it would somehow be cute or funny or something if another National Football League team, whether it's the Minnesota Vikings or anybody else, would have to go through another Korey Stringer situation due to your apparent and obvious desire to scream "GOTCHA" whenever the feeling struck you?  And it would obviously only be whenever the feeling struck you, because we've already established that you have no desire to apply the standards fairly and equitably.  Because let me tell you something, sir. . .my team actually lost a player that had been taking diuretics because they may or may not have known the dangers of what they were ingesting.  My team went through that. . .my team's players went through that. . .my team's fans went through that.  I wouldn't desire for fans of any other team to go through what we did back in August of 2001.

But you, Mr. Goodell. . .your league and their doctors would have just that happen.  Because you knew that there was something out there that National Football League players were taking, and that that something contained a substance that could be fatal if taken improperly or, in this case, taken without knowing one was taking it.  Why?  Nobody knows why. . .and, more importantly, nobody should care why.  Because your failure. . .YOUR failure. . .to disclose this to the NFLPA and its players. . .is nothing short of unconscionable.

Honestly, what would you have done had Pat Williams or Kevin Williams or Will Smith (DE for the New Orleans Saints) died on the practice field or, God help you, during a televised regular season game due to the effect of bumetanide that they had unknowingly and unwittingly ingested?  Because had that happened, and it had come to light that you hadn't taken the proper steps to inform the players of the NFL of this substance being in this particular supplement. . .even when they had tried to get confirmation of such things. . .their surviving family members would pretty much own the National Football League right now, and you and some of your league doctors would probably be locked up somewhere facing criminal charges.  Deservedly so, I might say.

If you had any integrity at all, Lionel Hutz and the rest of your legal team would walk into that courtroom this morning and tell the judge that you were dropping the entire thing.  If you had any sense of decency, that would be followed shortly thereafter by you announcing your resignation as NFL Commissioner.  But since, from the looks of those things, neither of those values are a vital part of your repertoire, I suspect that you'll continue dragging this out, because I'm sure that you're still under the impression that neither you nor the NFL's doctors have done anything wrong in this case.  You're just going to continue to embarrass yourselves in this matter, but hey. . .I guess that's what you guys do.  You've been exposed as the hypocrites that you are. . .but don't let me stop you from humiliating yourselves further.

Christopher Gates,
Just a guy with a football blog that actually knows the difference between right and wrong.