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Op-Ed: NFL 2014-2015 — A season in review

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has had what some may call a rough year. Others may call it the worst year in NFL history. Commissioner Goodell has dealt with suspensions, legal battles and controversy nearly every week since before the season began.

Early on, performance enhancing and recreational drugs topped the list of offenses crossing Goodell’s desk. While these are common suspensions in sports today, the number and notoriety of players suspended so early in the season was an ominous start to what became a banner year for trouble in the league.

Players smoking marijuana or using steroids were the least of Goodell’s worries in the first half of the season. San Francisco linebacker Aldon Smith was suspended nine games for violating the NFL players’ code of conduct. Accusations against Smith include creating a disturbance at an airport during which he reportedly claimed to have a bomb, and a police search of his home over the summer which yielded several unregistered assault weapons. The search was authorized after a house party in which several shots were fired and house guests were injured. Aldon served less than two weeks in a work program for the weapons charges.

The Ray Rice video was the biggest public relations nightmare for the league this season. It began when Rice was suspended for two games for violating the league’s domestic abuse policy. When a video surfaced of the barbaric incident, fans were furious that the suspension was so short and the league decided to indefinitely ban Rice. Rice appealed the lengthened penalty and was reinstated. Goodell and the league started domestic violence awareness campaigns and support groups, but some still wonder if it was enough to reverse the negative image of the league.

It hasn’t been all bad press. It has been a record-breaking season for offensive players across the league. Peyton Manning again stood out as one of the best to ever play the game, surpassing Brett Favre’s career touchdown mark. Manning could take the lead easily in several other categories if he chooses to return next season. Manning announced earlier this year that he had no plans to retire, but that was before he played for a month with a torn quadricep. The Broncos lost in the second round of the playoffs.

After defeating the Broncos, the Colts played in the AFC Championship where they were beaten handily by the Patriots. Shortly after the game, the Patriots were accused of cheating…again. The charge this time: deflating their footballs so players can get a better grip, thus making for easier throws and catches. Fans outside of New England are obviously upset. Some are even calling for banning the Patriots from the Super Bowl.

To top it all off for Goodell, a currently incarcerated Cowboys fan is suing the NFL for nearly $89 Billion after Dez Bryant’s apparent catch was overturned in a playoff game Dallas eventually lost. That’s billion, with a “B”. To put that in perspective, all 32 NFL teams combined are only worth about $45 Billion.

Here’s to hoping Mr. Goodell gets a much-needed break and a vacation this offseason and that next year won’t be quite as wild in the National Football League.

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