TORONTO - Roger Goodell canít touch this one, but it undermines everything he is trying to accomplish when it comes to cleaning up the image of his league.
The NFL commissioner, like the rest of us, learned early yesterday morning of yet another rape charge that will further smear his league.
Only this time, Goodell canít do anything about it.
Lawrence Taylor, a Hall of Famer and a guy named to the NFLís 75th anniversary all-time team, was arrested early Thursday and is facing third-degree rape charges after an attack on a 16-year-old girl in a suburban New York City hotel.
The girl, who is believed to be a runaway, was brought to Taylorís room by a pimp according to investigating officers. Police say the girl was both raped and beaten. She alerted her uncle following the incident by text and he contacted police.
Unlike the Ben Roethlisberger case in Georgia ó when a 20-year-old college student accused the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback of sexually assaulting her in a nightclub ó police acted quickly, first to arrest Taylor on suspicion of the crime and then cordoned off the hotel room to collect all pertinent physical evidence.
Unlike the Roethlisberger case, at least this one will either have some definitive physical evidence or it wonít. Either way, it wonít be a he-said, she-said deal, so if a crime were committed, Taylor is unlikely to walk.
But the big problem for Goodell is that this one lands just as heavily on the NFL as Roethlisbergerís actions did, despite the fact the league has next to nothing to do with Taylor any more.
Heís had his post-career run-ins with the law but those have been of the illegal substance or tax evasion kind. This is the first time, if the charges stand up, that his actions have hurt someone other than himself.
Coming hot on the heels of the Roethlisberger incident in Georgia, it has to have Goodell pulling his hair out.
And if youíre thinking about taking back that Hall of Fame honour, consider the case of one O.J. Simpson. Heís in jail as we speak and remains enshrined.
Goodell has made such a concerted effort to make his league and its players responsible for their actions, itís got to frustrate the man when his league gets hurt by the actions of its ex-players, as well.
Itís not as if he doesnít have his hands full already policing the active players.