It has been a year of small men in big roles working from skyscrapers in New York.
In politics, we've got Donald Trump, a tantrum-throwing bully whose immediate response to the slightest perceived insult is a blustering threat matched with a schoolyard insult. And in sports, we've got helmet-haired vacuity Roger Goodell, the gloriously compensated commissioner of the NFL and king of self-sabotaging, awful inconsistency.
The Josh Brown affair has demonstrated several things: how feeble the NFL's commitment to working on issues of abuse is, how even the most "respectable" of franchises will put its morals in a blind trust if they think it will get them a better shot at splitting the season series with Dallas, and how Goodell fundamentally misunderstands and has no respect for the issue of domestic abuse.
Really, the Brown situation should have been cut and dried. Allegations of abuse, he's gone six games. Poof. That's the league policy. It's cut and dried, it's all the cover they needed, and it would have gone miles towards demonstrating a post-Ray Rice shift in attitude towards something a little more responsible. Following their own rules was literally the easiest thing Goodell and the NFL could have done.
Instead, we got a tango about investigations and uncooperative witnesses and all sorts of other nonsense, and they bent the rules so Brown missed one (1) game. Less than Ray Rice, less than the benchmark incident that got the league savaged for its feeble response.
Which got Goodell justifiable scorn. And then, when more details came out - as anyone with two brain cells to rub together would have known they would have - the story flared up and Goodell looked like an insensitive, awful lummox once again. There is shooting yourself in the foot, and there is shoving your boot into the main gun of a Russian T-72 and daring someone to pull the trigger. The league, which apparently was concerned enough about Brown's behavior to get his wife a separate room during the Pro Bowl, looks even more asinine and awful for hiding behind the "We didn't know how bad it was" defense. They knew, and they took concrete steps to mitigate it. And then they washed their hands when it came to possibly affecting real games. It's a given that Brown should be gone for the full six games, if not more. It's a given that the NFL needs to stop getting cute with this horrible behavior, and to live up to its own rules and supposed standards. All the breast cancer pink socks in the world mean precisely jack shit if you're turning a blind eye to domestic abuse in the interest of three extra yards on kickoffs and a 5% uptick in field goal percentage.
Once again, he just looked small.