By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- Roger Goodell loves to give long-winded answers, in which he says absolutely nothing. Occasionally, though, he slips up and states a non-truth.
Or, in layman's terms, he tells a lie.
St. Louis' ongoing litigation against the NFL seems to have exposed a couple of rather significant manipulations of the truth by the commissioner of the NFL.
Randy Karraker, a radio host for ESPN radio in St. Louis, reported on the events in the courtroom on Monday. In the midst of that reporting he noted that Kevin Demoff, the chief operating officer of the Rams, notified the NFL in 2014 that a story would soon be coming out which noted that Rams owner Stan Kroenke had purchased a large plot of land in the Los Angeles area, with the intention to build a stadium.
The league responded to Demoff's information by asking, "What should we say?" Karraker reported that Demoff then provided "talking points" that Goodell used during his Super Bowl press conference in New York.
While answering a question about that exact topic during that press conference, Goodell denied having any knowledge that the land purchase was made with the intent of building an NFL stadium.
"We're aware of [the land purchase]," Goodell said, per CBS Los Angeles at the time. "There are no plans, to my knowledge, of a stadium development. Anything that would require a stadium development would require multiple votes of the membership."
Goodell also said, "We should make sure we do what's necessary to continue to support the team locally, which the fans have done in St. Louis, and make sure we can do whatever we can to make sure that team is successful in the St. Louis market."
Based on the evidence coming out from the courtroom in St. Louis, it does not appear as though those words were sincere.
In fact, in the courtroom, it was revealed that at least a month before that press conference statement, Goodell vowed to Kroenke that he would keep the land deal secret.
For Goodell to say that in 2013 while then saying "there are no plans, to my knowledge, of a stadium development" in 2014 is nothing short of a bald-faced lie from the commissioner at his annual Super Bowl press conference.
Another mistake by Goodell was spotlighted by Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, who noted that the basis of the NFL's argument -- that the league's relocation policy is voluntary and not mandatory -- was undermined by Goodell's own statement that the policy is, in fact, mandatory.
Florio wrote: "If the NFL claims the relocation policy is voluntary and the Commissioner of the NFL has admitted under oath that it's not, that's a problem. A big problem. The kind of problem that undermines the credibility of every claim the NFL is making in the case. Indeed, if the league can't be taken at its word on such a basic and clear question, what if anything that it says in that case can be believed?"
That is, of course, a question that most NFL observers have pondered aloud for years, particularly here in New England, where we've taken copious notes on Goodell's history of tiptoeing around the truth and reality. The league at large has not been in the business of telling the truth with some rather important matters, really.
Mostly, those complains and charges have been dismissed as parochial, geographically based, biased and/or partisan. This time -- with the court ruling that the finances of Goodell and some powerful, rich NFL owners can be investigated -- there figures to be some more significant fallout from the commissioner's dedication to obscuring the truth when speaking publicly.
Sports-wise, the cities of Boston and St. Louis have certainly had their differences over the years. The Cardinals beat the Red Sox in the World Series in 1946 and 1967; the Red Sox countered with World Series wins over the Cardinals in 2004 and 2013. The Celtics went 3-1 in the NBA Finals against the St. Louis Hawks from 1957-61. Bobby Orr flew through the air to beat the Blues in the 1970 Stanley Cup Final, while the Blues broke the Bruins' hearts in Game 7 of the Cup Final in 2019. And of course, the Patriots defeated the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI, a loss that some misguided Rams still believe was won fraudulently.
Alas, if the city of St. Louis -- feeling so spurned by the abrupt and apparently dishonest departure of the Rams for L.A. -- can bring about some long overdue public comeuppance for Goodell? Boston may reach out to St. Louis about setting up some sort of sister city agreement. Nothing can quite bring together two different places quite like harmony in disliking the duplicity of one Roger Goodell.
for more features.