Roger Goodell appeared before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Wednesday to answer questions about the Washington Commanders’ workplace culture and the alleged sexual harassment having taken place within the organization. The meeting turned into a spectacle, for all the wrong reasons.
While some representatives such as chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) took the allegations brought forward against the Commanders and their ownership seriously, others apparently did not — at least within the forum created by the committee. Its Republican members, after all, spent much of their time either questioning the validity of the hearing or talking about other topics entirely.
There were comments about inflation, baby formula shortage, and the United States’ southern border. There also was Deflategate.
In a hearing about a toxic workplace environment and sexual harassment allegations, Rep. Pat Fallon (R-TX) wanted to talk about a seven-year-old scandal involving the New England Patriots. So, the Massachusetts native used his allotted one-on-one time with Goodell to do just that.
Rep. Fallon spoke about the alleged underinflation of footballs, the NFL’s investigation into the matter, and Tom Brady’s status as a New England legend before arriving at his question.
“I am surprised that in reviewing the league rules to prepare for this hearing — this critical hearing — we uncovered that the NFL requires footballs today to be inflated to a gauge pressure of between 12.5 and 13.5 PSI,” Rep. Fallon said. “And the rules don’t state and specify the temperature at which these measurements are to be made.
“And the pressure temperature law states that there is a positive correlation between the temperature and the pressure of a gas when there’s a fixed volume in mass. So how can we, Commissioner, guarantee the consistency of the PSI levels of footballs moving forward?”
Goodell, who was not present but participating via video, responded to the rather odd question by essentially repeating the same answer he has given numerous times before when asked about Deflategate.
“It’s been quite a while since I focused on this issue, but I’ll tell you our procedures now are that our game officials make that check prior to the game,” he said. “They are the ones who do that, individually, and then the balls are under protected order under that point on.”
The NFL commissioner went on to also talk about the league-funded investigation into the matter, which was subsequently used as the basis for stripping the Patriots of two draft picks and suspending Brady for four games in 2016. That investigation, of course, was filled with flaws and faulty science that was proven wrong by independent analysts ranging from renowned scientists to high school students.
So, why again did it come up in a congressional hearing?
Rep. Fallon asked his question tongue in cheek, thus following the theme of the entire event: he and his Republican colleagues were actively trying to invalidate the hearing by turning it into a farce. He himself referred to it as a “sham,” “farce,” “clown show” and “terrible waste” of both taxpayer money and Goodell’s time.
As for the Commanders and their workplace culture, the committee released its findings later that same day. The 29-page memo released on Wednesday concludes that owner Dan Snyder conducted a “shadow investigation” and that he and the NFL worked closely to eventually bury the findings from an official league investigation.
Snyder himself declined to appear at the hearing on Wednesday, claiming that he would be out of country on a business trip. As a result, chairwoman Maloney announced that she would use her subpoena power for a deposition.
“The NFL is unwilling or unable to hold Mr. Snyder accountable,” Rep. Maloney said on Wednesday. “That is why I am announcing now my intent to issue a subpoena for Mr. Snyder for a deposition next week. The committee will not be deterred in its investigation into the Washington Commanders.”