Ed Rendell doesn't believe Roger Goodell (or Chris Christie).
"It's a horror show of ineptitude and lying," Rendell said about NFL commissioner Goodell's handling of domestic-abuse charges against running back Ray Rice.
The interview Friday didn't make a lot of waves, but Rendell pulled no punches in discussing the scandal with Jon Marks and Sean Brace on 97.5 The Fanatic.
"The oldest trick in the book" is what Rendell called the NFL's appointment of a supposedly independent investigator to delve into who knew what and when about a disturbing videotape showing Rice knocking out financee Janay Parker inside an elevator at an Atlantic City casino.
After gossip site TMZ made the video public last week, Goodell told CBS that no one at the NFL ever saw the footage, as far as he knew.
The NFL did receive a copy, sources told the Associated Press. So the league hired a former director of the FBI to investigate.
Rendell has already arrived at some strong conclusions.
"It's not just messing up. He lied," the former Pennsylvania governor said. "He lied to the public. ... He lied about not receiving the tape. He lied about not looking at the tape. He lied."
Pressed about the possibility that the tape never reached Goodell's desk, Rendell said such a scenario would show "gross incompetence."
"That's like Chris Christie saying, all those people were involved in it and he never knew anything about it," Rendell said, evidently referring to the Bridgegate scandal.
"Believe me, somebody told Roger Goodell about the tape," he added. "Now, did he choose not to see it because he wanted plausible deniability? Maybe. But if he did that, it's pretty horrible, too. Even worse!
"There's no path to justify anything that was done here."
He added: "I think the owners should ask him to step down."
Attempts to contact Rendell to ask if he'd amend any of his comments were unsuccessful Tuesday.
Rendell's skepticism was partly based on personal knowledge, he said:
"My former state police commissioner, Jeff Miller, is the head of NFL security. And I guarantee you, I would be stunned, knowing Jeff Miller, and I worked with him for several years, that Jeff Miller didn't see the tape. ... Can you believe that they got the tape in April, and that the head of security wouldn't have watched the tape? And I guarantee you Jeff Miller, as he did when I was governor, would report that directly to the boss. Not to anybody else. But directly to the boss."
Rendell said he "actually used" that independent investigation trick when he was governor: "You call for an investigation knowing that the investigation will take even a month or two or three months, and by then things will have died down."
One does wonder: Why should figuring out who saw the tape last take more than a few days? The AP cited an April voicemail where a woman working for the NFL says she got the tape. Shouldn't the league have been able to quickly identify her, and ask if she gave anyone the tape? If not, how long does it take to send out a mass email telling all league employees to swear whether they saw the tape? ESPN NFL reporter Sal Palaontonio even suggested the league could have put its two floors of New York offices in "lockdown" and searched to find the tape.
As to the silence of Jeffrey Lurie, at least on the record, the Eagles owner shouldn't be expected to publicly take sides on Goodell, though the team could speak out in favor of a league zero-tolerance policy toward domestic violence, Rendell said.
Asked if he'd rather be vice president or NFL commissioner, Rendell replied:
"For fun, it would be NFL commissioner. But as much as I'd love to be baseball commissioner, NFL commissioner, and I really would, one day if I had those jobs I'd be lying in bed, and I'd think to myself, 'It's just a game.' ...
"Of course, the vice president doesn't do anything but go to funerals."
In signing off, Rendell mentioned the job once again:
"NFL commissioner, let's start the boomlet."
He'd even tweeted, previously, about the idea:
Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @petemucha on Twitter.