Roger Goodell enjoyed a tremendous first year as NFL commissioner. He was widely lauded for his tough-guy stance in cleaning up off-the-field behavior, and for taking a draft pick from the New England Patriots in the wake of Spygate.
Goodell was the new sheriff in town, walking tall, carrying a big stick and re-writing the rules to clean up his league's image.
The honeymoon, though, appears to be over.
First, Goodell found himself in the crosshairs of Sen. Arlen Specter after the revelation that Spygate went much deeper than a little taping of the New York Jets' signals. He looks especially bad trying to explain why he arrogantly burned the Spygate evidence.
Now comes an accusation from Kathy Urbanski, wife of Tommy Urbanski, paralyzed in the nightclub shooting incident allegedly sparked by PacMan Jones, that the league has abandoned the Urbanskis despite promises to help them cover their mounting medical costs.
Goodell, of course, was lauded for dealing harshly with Jones, whom he suspended for the 2007 season.
The Urbanskis, though, say the league has refused to help them pay the millions of dollars in medical fees they will accumulate, despite an initial offer of help.
Goodell sounds like a typical heartless, arrogant corporate curmudgeon when he discusses the Urbanskis.
Legally, Goodell is right. He and the NFL don't HAVE to do anything for the Urbanskis.
Yet, morally, he is as far off as he can be, especially if he did initially offer help. Maybe the NFL doesn't owe the Urbanskis anything. Maybe the couple is looking for a rich sugar-daddy to make their financial troubles disappear. Maybe there are bad feelings because the Urbanskis filed a civil suit to get help from the league.
The NFL is, of course, rich beyond imagination. Helping the Urbanskis defray their costs, even footing the entire bill, wouldn't even dent the league's overflowing coffers.
Goodell, though, won't lift a finger. It doesn't directly affect his product, his league's image, his corporate bottom line.
Whether you think the NFL bears any responsibility for Tommy Urbanski's injuries or not, helping that devastated family is the right thing for Goodell to do.
If he doesn't see that, shame on him.