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Valentine's Views: The game will go on

Some thoughts after a terrible week for the NFL

Roger Goodell
Roger Goodell
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Ray Rice domestic abuse case. The NFL's bungling of that entire matter, from initially not punishing Rice severely enough to either its failure to gather the facts or its ignorance of the ones it did gather -- whichever you choose to believe. The Adrian Peterson child abuse case. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones being accused of sexual assault.

It's no wonder that a Sports Illustrated article summarizing the events of the past week is headlined 'The most embarrassing week in NFL history.' It most certainly has been an embarrassing stretch.

I am not here today to talk about domestic violence or child abuse. Those are vile, cowardly acts and those who commit them deserve our scorn, they deserve their punishment. They certainly don't deserve to be worshipped, athletic talents aside.

We have reached another NFL Sunday. Will anything change in stadiums around the league after the events of the past week? Probably not.

Sure, there might be some scattered demonstrators -- maybe some folks carrying signs into games. There will be fly overs at some stadiums showing 'Goodell must go' banners, including MetLife Stadium, courtesy of a women's advocacy group.

Mostly, though, there will be filled stadiums with screaming fans. There will be, as there is every week, huge television ratings. Sponsors aren't going anywhere -- they aren't courageous enough and they know there will be a long line of their competitors waiting to take their spot if they pull their ads.

Nothing on the field, or about the NFL product, will change.

Fans love the game, they love their teams, they love the atmosphere of an NFL Sunday whether they are tailgating at the game or home watching from their living room. That isn't going to change.

Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson aren't the first allegedly bad people to do NFL uniforms. They won't be the last. There are a lot of good people wearing NFL uniforms, people who live their lives the right way and do immense amounts of good in their communities. There are a lot of bad people, too. We just don't know their secrets. That is the case with the New York Giants, as it is with every team around the league. It always has been and always will be that way.

When it comes to Sunday. And Mondays. And now Thursdays, it is the game that matters to fans. That isn't going to change.

Does Rice deserve to be forced away from the game? Certainly. If Peterson is guilty of what he is charged with he deserves to be suspended, as well. If Goodell didn't simply bungle the Rice case and instead actually knew the whole story and still handed down only an initial two-game suspension, maybe he should be replaced. That isn't for me to decide.

The NFL, as popular and powerful as it has become, is in a position to shine a light on things like domestic violence and child abuse when such things touch the league -- as they have this week. A strong stance from the league would provide a great message.

Hopefully, the league will do just that. Somehow, though, when the games are on I think all of those issues -- and whatever moral compass the players in uniform have or don't have -- will become secondary to whether your favorite team is winning or losing.

That is how it has always been. Rightly or wrongly, I don't think that is going to change.