Colin Kaepernick, Roger Goodell and a lack of leadership

Roger Goodell in happier times at Super Bowl XLIII. Photograph by Staff Sgt. Bradley Lail, USAF

Roger Goodell in happier times at Super Bowl XLIII. Photograph by Staff Sgt. Bradley Lail, USAF

Am I going to have to hop on a plane for San Fran to straighten out my Niners? Because I gotta tell you, I’m ready, willing and able to do it. They are foundering. Their 19-3 loss to their arch-nemesis, the Seattle Seahawks, on Thanksgiving night proved that the biggest turkey wasn’t the one on the table. Geez, Louise. Although Thanksgiving football is its own curse. Remember the Jets’ game against the Patriots, in which then- Jets’ quarterback Mark Sanchez had his head up some player’s butt?

Sanchez is now part of the winning Philadelphia Eagles. So there’s hope, Colin Kaepernick. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then you know that I’m a huge fan of the 49ers’ QB. But I love my favorites with a view. Colin failed to score a touchdown Thanksgiving night after scoring at least one in each of the previous 18 games. He was intercepted twice. Worse, he cemented the notion that he can’t win against his archrivals, can’t close the big game, with the Hawks looming again on the schedule.

The wrap here is that he’s making too slow a transition from being a galvanizing running QB to a traditional pocket passer. Transitions take time. But in the meantime, he needs to become more of a traditional team leader. Don’t wait to be told to address the team before the game. Speak up. Lead by word as well as deed.

This isn’t a hopeless situation. It’s a work in progress and I believe progress  and success will be the end result.

Which is more than I can say for Roger Goodell. A former U.S. District Court judge, Barbara Jones, has overturned the NFL commissioner’s suspension of former Baltimore Raven Ray Rice, in effect because Goodell flip-flopped on punishing Rice, first suspending him for just two games for coldcocking his then-fiancée Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City casino and then suspending him indefinitely, implying that Rice’s dissembling led to the discrepancy in the commissioner’s reactions.

Bottom line: Some team is free to pick up Rice. And that’s a shame, because Rice deserves the indefinite suspension for what he did. But the commissioner dropped the ball, and so Rice’s career gets a new lease. It’s similar to a court case in which the evidence is mishandled and the criminal goes free. And all because of a lack of Alexandrian leadership – leadership from the front, which means putting others first.

Much has been written about how this is only a judgment against Goodell not a victory for Rice.  Are you kidding me? The message remains the same: Women and children are just so much collateral damage in the NFL.

That is the real message here, and I have no doubt it will be reinforced when – and not if – Minnesota Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson successfully appeals his suspension for taking a switch to his 4-year-old. The NFL isn’t interested in those who need protection. It’s interested in winning and money.

Both Colin and Goodell have gotten into trouble this season by being reactive rather than proactive. Colin’s problems, which reflect the vagaries of sport, can be fixed.

Goodell, on the other hand, has become part of the NFL’s “female trouble.”

It’s time for him to go.