In case you were wondering if Republicans like Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio) would use a Wednesday hearing on the workplace environment at the NFL team known as the Washington Commanders to get to the bottom of what went on and originally sparked Congressional interest… well, they didn’t. Instead, Jordan spiraled, and he was subsequently schooled.
“Why’d you ban Dave Portnoy from NFL games?” Jordan asked NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. “He’s a journalist. In fact, he’s a sports journalist. Why’s he banned?” Portnoy, founder of Barstool Sports, claims he’s been “Arrested at NFL HQ’s protesting Brady,” “Organized Clowngate at Gillete -Ran Mike Kensil out of SuperBowl media day -[was] kicked out of Super Bowl media day -Dragged out of superbowl in cuffs” and more. There are some editing mishaps in there, but it seems clear Portnoy’s own behavior — including what led to an apparent arrest at NFL headquarters — would be reason to warrant restrictions on what he can do. Goodell told Jordan he was unfamiliar with the situation.
Jordan also asked Goodell if he agreed with the decision inside the Washington Commanders — which Jordan, for some embarrassing reason, insisted on referring to as the Washington Redskins, which is the team’s old name — to fine defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio $100,000 over comments including a reference to what happened during last year’s Capitol riot as a “dustup.” Goodell indicated in response to Jordan’s initial questioning that he didn’t feel as though he was in an appropriate position to speak to whether fining Del Rio — a course of action chosen by the team’s head coach — was correct. Jordan subsequently asked Goodell if he was worried about the supposed ramifications for First Amendment rights of Del Rio’s fine. Jordan asked Goodell if the NFL commissioner was sincere when previously saying the league encourages “all” — rather than just some people — to “speak out,” to which Goodell replied:
‘That’s correct Congressman, but you are responsible for what you say. There are consequences for what you do and say in life.’
Jordan — who was barely looking up and was fidgeting to a startling degree — added in his familiarly harried tone: “This is the concern I have. It seems to me the NFL encourages all to speak out, unless you’re Dave Portnoy, you’re not allowed to a game, unless you’re Jack Del Rio, you get fined. That is, I think, the concern not only I have but a lot of your fans across this country have.” Asked if he was concerned, Goodell indicated in part that he’s consistently concerned with what NFL fans think. Jordan kept asking about the fine for Del Rio, although Goodell was consistent in deferring to decision-making within the team: “I am not going to interfere with the workplace decisions that a club makes on a matter like that. That is not something that rises to the occasion, such as the subject that we’re talking about today, when you have a workplace that is obviously toxic and unacceptable and unprofessional.”
In other words, Goodell — of all people — put Jordan in his place. Jordan eventually ranted about “the chilling impact when speech is curtailed like this and you get fined for a tweet that you put out.” This sort of melodramatic political posturing from Jordan and those aligned with him is just embarrassing. Check out Jordan’s meltdown at Wednesday’s hearing below: