The biggest issue it raised is that Goodell, whose job title demands that he be neutral, seemingly chose to play favorites in this instance. But that isn't necessarily a fair case to make.
Goodell agreeing, during a visit to the Jets' complex, to Ryan's request to have the commissioner pretend to scold him in front of Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes and then do the same to Holmes because Ryan thought it would enhance his bonding with the player hardly qualifies as an indiscretion. Nor should it create a perception of Goodell losing his objectivity.
If anything, it shows that he has the ability to step out of the buttoned-down, super-serious persona that goes with being commissioner and can have what ultimately amounts to some harmless fun with a coach. I have little doubt that Goodell would have honored a similar request from another team's coach, because it seems very much within his nature to do so.
I'm also not as troubled as other media types seem to be that Holmes might have a problem with learning Ryan's scheme to favorably impact their relationship and that he drew the false ire of the commissioner. It's hard to imagine Holmes' relationship with Ryan -- whose bombastic personality undoubtedly brings its share of manufactured drama that is obvious to all of his players -- being the slightest bit compromised. Put it this way: if Holmes and the Jets don't end up working out a long-term contract, that incident won't be a factor whatsoever.
For the record, it isn't the first time an NFL commissioner was aware of a phony reprimand involving a Jets coach. NFL on CBS analyst Phil Simms once shared a story with me that former commissioner Paul Tagliabue shared with him. It seems that Tagliabue, during a training-camp visit, was talking with then-Jets coach Bill Parcells in the middle of the field when suddenly Parcells said, "Excuse me, just for one minute here, commissioner." Parcells then turned, looked all the way down at the end zone, picked out one of his prominent defensive backs, and started yelling at him, "You'd better start doing things right ... I don't want to see any more mistakes out here!"
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Parcells turned back to resume his conversation with the now astonished commissioner, who said, "That's unbelievable. You were talking to me, but you could still see that he was doing something wrong all the way on the other end of the field?"
"I didn't see what he was doing," Parcells confessed. "I just wanted to yell at him. I knew I was going to yell at him at some point in practice, and I just picked my spot to yell at him now."
It was Parcells' way of delivering a message to the players that he was always watching their every move -- even when, in actuality, he wasn't.