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Richardson tries to rally internal support for Goodell


Since the Associated Press dropped its bombshell on Wednesday placing a copy of the Ray Rice video in the league office in early April, some owners have expressed public support for Commissioner Roger Goodell.

But apparently not enough to the liking of the league.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, an effort has been made to recruit owners to sign a joint letter of support to Goodell. Panthers owner Jerry Richardson has attempted to solicit signatures; other owners may also be involved in making calls and twisting arms to apply John Hancocks to a document that presumably would make clear to the world that the owners won’t be hiring a new captain for their 300-foot, gold-plated, money-printing yacht that but for this scandal would be sailing in mostly clear, open water.

Another source told PFT on Saturday that the league office has been contacting multiple teams with a request that ownership issue a written statement of support for Goodell. So far, written statements have come only from the Bears, the Jaguars, and Washington. Verbal statements of support have been made by Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, and Giants co-owner John Mara.

(Jets owner Woody Johnson also has issued a statement, but it focused on opposing domestic violence, not on supporting Goodell.)

While no owner has publicly criticized Goodell or called for his ouster, few would even consider taking such an aggressive and controversial position in public. It’s hard not to wonder what Al Davis, a champion of diversity and antagonist of the league office, would have to say about all of this.

But with only a handful of written statements and a smattering of owners giving verbal support, it’s also hard not to wonder what the owners who have remained silent really think about all of this.

Here’s what I think, in the event anyone confuses our efforts to report on the story as an attack on Goodell or anyone else with the league. I firmly and completely believe that Goodell did not see the video before deciding to suspend Ray Rice only two games. I’d be shocked if Goodell had seen that video before issuing such a paltry punishment for such a heinous act.

But I also believe that the question of whether Goodell saw the video obscures more important questions regarding whether the league did enough to get the video and whether the league even needed to see the video. Throughout the week, it seemed clear that the league office has been trying to duck and dodge those questions in a clumsy, disingenuous way.

Ultimately, that could be why many owners -- few of whom got and stayed really, really rich by being not smart -- are possibly taking a wait-and-see approach to this situation.

UPDATE 9:47 a.m. ET: A league official tells PFT that the league office has not been calling teams to rally support. “Teams have contacted us,” the official said. “The answer was, ‘Do what you think is appropriate.’ There was no request to put out a statement of support.” The league official had no knowledge regarding whether Richardson is attempting to recruit other owners to sign a letter of support for Goodell.