United States senator John McCain called out NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for his handling of domestic violence and the Deflategate scandal, Jarrett Bell of USA TODAY reports.
Goodell, who has been the league's commissioner since 2006, has been roundly criticized for not taking more decisive action to stop several stories from overshadowing the games themselves. He gave former Ravens running back Ray Rice a two-game suspension for hitting his then-fiancée and then suspended him indefinitely when video of the assault was made public.
McCain, a Republican senator from Arizona, said Goodell and the league should have been direct and logical in their handling of the Rice case.
"I think these controversies would have gone away a lot easier if they had approached them from, 'How are the American people going to react to seeing the video of a professional football player knock out his wife?' " McCain told USA TODAY Sports, referring to the Ray Rice elevator video.
The 2008 Republican Party candidate for president also said Goodell should have taken a lesson from politicians in his response, or lack thereof, to allegations that the New England Patriots intentionally used under-inflated footballs. The league is investigating the Patriots, but Goodell has not made a public statement.
"One thing we do in politics when there's an issue that arises, smart politicians have a rapid-response team. What is the reaction of Mr. Goodell in this latest one? He's MIA as far as I can tell."
McCain went on to say he was disappointed that the upcoming Super Bowl has been overshadowed by Deflategate.
The Patriots will face the Seahawks on Feb. 1 in Super Bowl XLIX, which will be played in McCain's home state of Arizona.
- Paul Palladino