These days, Roger Goodell could use a character witness or two.
The latest blow to the embattled NFL commissioner’s credibility came on Friday, when former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice won the appeal of his indefinite suspension. The former federal judge who handed down the ruling concluded that Rice did not lie about the domestic violence incident with his wife when he was interviewed by Goodell in June — contradicting Goodell’s claim that Rice had misled the league about what happened inside an Atlantic City hotel casino earlier this year.
But none of that mattered to Fox News host Ainsley Earhardt, who was more than happy to vouch for Goodell’s character on Monday.
“Well, many of us know Roger Goodell so I do have to defend him,” Earhardt said during the latest edition of “Outnumbered.” “He has been lovely to my family, very nice, very friendly to many of us here at Fox know him, and I take his word over Ray Rice’s word any day. I’m sorry.”
Fellow “Outnumbered” panelist Lou Dobbs respectfully disagreed, pointing out to Earhardt that the facts of the case were in his favor.
“That’s fine. That’s what makes America great. But the reality is that I got a district court judge on my side,” Dobbs said. “Your turn.”
“I’ve got the truth on my side,” Earhardt said.
Former U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones ruled in Rice’s favor on Friday, clearing the way for the player to be signed by an NFL team immediately.
“In this arbitration, the NFL argues that Commissioner Goodell was misled when he disciplined Rice the first time,” Jones said. “Because, after careful consideration of all of the evidence, I am not persuaded that Rice lied to, or misled, the NFL at his June interview, I find that the indefinite suspension was an abuse of discretion and must be vacated.”
Goodell’s wife, Jane Skinner, is a former Fox News anchor who worked with Earhardt until she left the channel in 2010.
There’s precedent on Fox News for heaping praise on familial friends in the sporting world.
In September, Gretchen Carlson rhapsodized about Derek Jeter during an on-air commentary about role models in sports. The retired New York Yankees shortstop has been represented by Carlson’s husband, super agent Casey Close, since he was 18.
“Call me biased — my husband represents Derek Jeter — or just call it like it is: a player who’s earned the respect of fans from coast-to-cost, keeping the hope alive that good sports role models do exist,” Carlson said.
This post has been updated.