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Hurley: In Defense Of Roger Goodell

BOSTON (CBS) -- Roger Goodell stood up for what's right ... and this is what he gets for it? This is how football fans reward him -- by dragging his name through the mud, seeking to destroy his reputation and making him not feel comfortable enough to even attend the season-opening game in New England this week?

Shame on you, America. Shame. On. You.

Mr. Goodell, mind you, is a man of great integrity. Mr. Goodell is a man who holds integrity in the highest regard. If you don't believe he is a man of integrity, then you clearly haven't been listening to him speak, because he says the word "integrity" all the time. Literally, all of the time. You see how there's no chance he'd say it so often if he didn't have it, right?

Yet many in this country who are jealous of his success have sought to knock Mr. Goodell down a peg, especially in the wake of the outrageously biased, patently unfair decision made by Judge Richard M. Berman in New York last week. Obviously, the judge had not been watching ESPN for the past eight months, and he obviously hasn't listened to the informed opinions of many sports radio hosts, folks who certainly know what they're talking about at all times. Because if the judge had been listening to most of the loudest voices in American sports media, he would know that Tom Brady was obviously guilty.

Oh, yeah, I'm suuuuuurrrreeee the NFL would run a bag job investigation to cover its tracks for having overly eager, bloodthirsty members of the front office running amok during a conference championship game. Likewise, I'm suuuuuurrrreeee the NFL would levy substantial cheating accusations against one of its teams without first checking a ninth grade physics textbook to understand some basic concepts. And I'm suuuuuurrrreeee the NFL would have leaked false information to reporters and let it linger as accepted public knowledge for multiple months without ever trying to correct it. Have you seen how quickly the NFL acts when false information begins to be spread about members of its executive office? That's what I thought. That's a league office that does not let false rumors spread.

Now, a loss in court is certainly rare for Mr. Goodell. Sure, former U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones outed him as a complete and utter liar last year in the Ray Rice hearing, but what does she know?! She must be biased, too.

And yes, U.S. District Judge David Doty ruled against Mr. Goodell in the Adrian Peterson case, and he even went so far as to lob this unfounded shot at Mr. Goodell two weeks ago: "I'm not sure the commissioner understands there is a CBA."

Excuse me, Mr. Judge Man from Minnesota, but the man to whom you're referring is a man who runs the National Football League. Who are you, acting like you understand how legal documents work? I think I'll take the word of the man who actually uses the CBA in his daily dealings, because he seems much more trustworthy than you.

So sure, Mr. Goodell has run into some partisan judges in the past calendar year who were clearly on the take for the players' union, but that doesn't mean the commissioner has ever done anything wrong. Only a blind sheep would trust those judges' rulings.

Is there any doubt that the only reason Brady got off scot-free is because he's the NFL's golden boy? What if this had been, say, Peyton Manning? A former member of those untrustworthy cheatin' Colts, who used to pump crowd noise into the RCA Dome, and a current member of the Broncos, who have only been able to win Super Bowls when they cheat the salary cap, Manning would certainly fry in court. Everyone knows Peyton Manning has been up to something sneaky for years, and given the shady history of the teams he's played for, there's no other explanation for his success. He just has to be a cheater, and even that charlatan Judge Berman would have seen the facts.

But the universe once again transpired against Mr. Goodell, whose only crime has been having a strong desire to uphold the integrity of the game. OK, so maybe he lied about what Brady told him at the appeal hearing, but in Mr. Goodell's defense, that transcript was never supposed to go public! We wouldn't even know about Mr. Goodell's brazen lies if the judge had just kept that transcript sealed like a good boy should have done.

And yeah, Mr. Goodell did not allow Brady's lawyers to question NFL general counsel and executive VP Jeff Pash during the appeal, but in fairness, Pash's testimony probably would have sunk the whole case for the NFL. As previously stated, Mr. Goodell recites the word "integrity" so often because it proves how much integrity he possesses. Likewise, he touted the "independence" of Ted Wells' investigation so many times so that people would understand just how independent it really was, even though the league named Pash "co-lead investigator" back in January. If the world found out that a high-ranking league official actually took out his red pen and edited that report before releasing it to the public, that would send a message that Wells' investigation was in fact not independent at all. So you can see why Mr. Goodell was only standing up for the independence of that report by refusing to let Pash be questioned about his role. That's heroic, if you ask me.

Once again, the man did nothing wrong, but some New York judge who has a bone to pick with the commissioner makes this empty plea about "fairness" and "what's right." Give me a break.

Now, poor Rog can't even attend the season opener for his league on Thursday night, thanks to you animals. Have you no decency, people? Do you have nothing better to do than to expend all of your energy attacking a man who did nothing wrong in a fruitless attempt to besmirch his character? If Goodell is guilty of anything, it might be loving the NFL too much. And you want to put him on a cross for that?

The NFL season opens this week in earnest, and all the ever-humble Mr. Goodell wants is for everybody to simply focus on football. Yes, he's continuing his fight in court by appealing Berman's decision, but that's only in an effort to rightfully restore his good name, which a federal judge and the general public tried to tear down last week. It will not work, and Mr. Goodell's unwavering integrity will win the day.

So in the meantime, please, do what Mr. Goodell has asked you to do. Just focus on football. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Read more from Michael Hurley by clicking here. You can email him or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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