Goodell sensed the gravity of the situation, she thought, when he met with about 50 women who worked at N.F.L. headquarters, primarily to rebut reports that the league had seen the video beforehand and failed to act on it. According to Locklear, Goodell reiterated his pledge to address domestic violence, but offered few specific steps because, he said, the league was still working on solutions.
“I remember leaving there and thinking that nothing had changed,” Locklear said. “There were no takeaways.”
Managers were told to speak to their staffs about the league’s response to the Rice video without, Locklear said, any instruction. When Locklear met with her team, a rift developed between her and a male subordinate that she said contributed to her eventual departure, though the N.F.L. and the male employee disputed her account.
Locklear said that during the meeting, the male employee, Aaron Jones, who worked in the Culver City, Calif., office, argued that Rice’s fiancée shared culpability by egging on Rice. Jones replayed the video to the group, Locklear said, pointing to key moments that he said supported his claim. The other men on the call, Locklear said, seemed to agree with Jones. Locklear was speechless, and the meeting ended uneasily.
Even before that meeting, Locklear said, she had problems with Jones’s work, and later docked his annual bonus, though the league said personnel records did not back that up. Jones was promoted in 2017 to director of marketing science and strategy, a job he still holds.