Dan Le Batard on NFL commissioner Roger Goodell Credit: The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz

After years of criticizing NFL commissioner Roger Goodell over the commissioner’s exempt list and other emergency measures to clamp down on NFL players’ off-court mistakes, sports commentator Dan Le Batard has credited Goodell’s efforts as a success.

Discussing the rumors that Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Rashee Rice could face a suspension over his involvement in two civil cases, Le Batard acknowledged just how rare these incidents are around the NFL these days. The former Miami Herald and ESPN The Magazine sportswriter credited Goodell for successfully weeding out off-field problems in the sport.

“I came down hard on how Roger Goodell made himself emperor of rules to clean up all of the arrests and the bad behavior in his sport, when he had a public relations nightmare of Pacman Jones getting arrested everywhere,” Le Batard said Tuesday on The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz. “He cleaned that up with such firm discipline on the employees and unprecedented penalties that you don’t think this way about football anymore … you don’t think anymore that the NFL has an arrest problem, that the NFL has a crime problem. There might be an occasional Ray Rice or something here and there that grabs your attention, but this is not a blanket over the sport anymore.”

Incidents with Greg Hardy, Adrian Peterson, and others drew the ire of the players’ union and many fans who believed Goodell’s role as prosecutor and judge went too far. The league ultimately took some power away from Goodell, as seen when an independent arbitrator gave Deshaun Watson a mere six-game suspension after the NFL pushed for a yearlong punishment.

“I got it wrong that that was so heavy-handed and so unprecedented that it violated the rules, I thought, of the collective bargaining agreement,” Le Batard said of his criticisms toward Goodell. “That he should be with his partners and not fighting his partners on that, but he wanted to clean up the image and it did work.”

It’s hard to say whether Le Batard is right or wrong, given that he is painting with broad strokes around the big-picture image of the entire league. Certainly, issues like Henry Ruggs’ guilty plea on vehicular manslaughter charges in Las Vegas are treated with more sensitivity and care because they are rarities, but Tyreek Hill was accused of domestic abuse in January while Von Miller was arrested last December on charges of third-degree assault against a pregnant woman.

Still, from a public relations standpoint, crime and trouble do feel less closely associated with the league’s image.

“There’s no question that it got fixed,” Le Batard argued. “This league had a legitimate problem where we were spending offseasons talking about the NFL’s image problem.”

Did the NFL get its players to clean up their act, or did it simply get better at managing the blowback and quieting down the bad headlines? Le Batard believes Goodell’s efforts worked, but we can’t see the full picture.

[The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz on YouTube]

About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.