Roger Goodell is failing “Crisis Management 101” quite spectacularly this month, with every attempt to gain control of the rapidly unwinding domestic violence scandal backfiring.

Take Friday’s press conference, in which the NFL commissioner apologized for the league’s failure to adequately punish Ray Rice and other players accused of abuse. Instead of the image of a powerful leader that has held sway for years, New York Daily News’ Mike Lupica says that Goodell instead looked like “just another guy in sports trying to talk his way out of trouble.

What became more clear, crystal clear, the longer he talked on Friday afternoon was that he had gotten caught being the weakest commissioner in professional sports, that he is through being called the most powerful man in sports in this country.

CBSSports columnist Gregg Doyell writes that Goodell seemed fine enough when it came to his prepared remarks, but the real trouble came in the Q & A:

Problem: Goodell couldn’t answer the questions. Not the hardest ones. He could answer the softballs, like this inane question from someone named Dan — “Hi Roger, how are ya?” — and this setup question from Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, who put it on a tee for the NFL commissioner when he asked him, “Are all 32 owners behind you?”

It’s pretty bad for Roger Goodell, the man who at one point seemed to be incapable of doing wrong. When taking the reins of the NFL almost a decade ago, he quickly gained a reputation for a no-nonsense approach to player conduct. And it didn’t hurt that the league’s popularity has skyrocketed on his watch.

But that reputation is in tatters. Bloomberg Businessweek dives deep into the “why” this week, pointing to a growing chorus of voices condemning the commissioner for what could very well go down as historically tone deaf crisis management skills.

Surveying the mess, voices ranging from the National Organization for Women to ESPN pundits Keith Olbermann and Bill Simmons have called for Goodell to resign or be fired. “This is the NFL’s most significant crisis since the week that John F. Kennedy was shot and the NFL incorrectly decided to play the games the following Sunday,” says Richard Levick, a crisis-management expert in Washington. “This is the most intense criticism they’ve been subject to since that time, 50 years ago.”

And, of course, it’s never good when you find yourself compared to Richard Nixon.

The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, wins for best headline, labeling Roger Goodell’s misplay Friday as the “Immaculate Deflection.”

[photo credit: AndrewDallos via photopin cc]