Perception matters and that little fact of life will ultimately be the biggest hurdle for Roger Goodell as he attempts to rehabilitate his tattered image as the NFL commissioner in the coming days and months.
People with far higher profiles than Goodell have traversed the same kind of tightrope.
Most recently the President of the United States, Barack Obama, took some serious public relations shrapnel when minutes after delivering a statement proclaiming himself "heartbroken" over the execution of American journalist James Foley by the Islamic State, he went out and played a round of golf on Martha's Vineyard.
Later on an interview on "Meet the Press," the POTUS acknowledged his mistake.
"I should've anticipated the optics," Obama said. "Part of this job is also the theatre of it. It's not always something that comes naturally to me. But it matters."
Detractors often paint Obama as cold and his use of the word "theatre," while profoundly accurate exemplified one of his greatest flaws -- the inability to understand the public he serves.
Goodell seems to have the same problem and it's ironic that the commish was also displaying his love of the links when a New Jersey law enforcement official had reportedly sent the Ray Rice battering video to someone at the NFL offices in New York on April 9.
Goodell was spotted in Augusta, Ga. that day wearing a green jacket on the grounds of the famed Augusta National Golf Club, the host club of the Masters.
And, in case you are wondering what the wardrobe means, only members of Augusta can wear the labeled green jacket on the club's grounds, meaning Goodell had cleared the bar of being a true elite.
The image of Goodell at Augusta on the very day Rice should have been being outed for the vicious beating of his now-wife played into the class-warfare narrative so many want to spin.
The rich guy who makes $44 million a year and makes even richer guys click their heels with billion-dollar television contracts could care less about domestic violence and the way women are treated.
And that part of this is not fair.
Class warfare is one of the most insidious things in our society today, a tactic used by some to fuel hatred in one group against another with the express intent of gaining political power and keeping it by creating a staid class in a constant state of anger against achievers.
Of course, that doesn't mean Goodell shouldn't lose his job.
The commissioner doesn't hate woman and he wasn't protecting the shield at all costs.
In Goodell's mind, Rice was a model NFL citizen who made one mistake and deserved a second chance. Whether any of that is true is up for debate but the fact that most of the people who follow the NFL disagreed with the commissioner's take is now public record.
At the end of the day Goodell's biggest mistake in this "scandal," is his hubris and inability to admit the original miscalculation.
A mea culpa conceding that the NFL could have acquired the videotape if it had wanted and should have been far tougher on Rice from the get go would have gone a long way in quashing this whole thing.
But by playing dumb, Goodell not only comes across as evasive and disingenuous, he has actually created a scandal out of thin air.
According to Jane McManus of ESPN, the NFL informed Rice that it increased his suspension from two games to indefinite because the video they eventually saw showed a "starkly different" sequence of events than what Rice described, a direct contradiction of many, including Ravens general manger Ozzie Newsome.
"Ray had given a story to John (Harbaugh) and I and what we saw on the video was what Ray said. Ray didn't lie to me. He didn't lie to me," Newsome told the Baltimore Sun.
Conversely during his interview with Norah O'Donnell of CBS, Goodell said, "When we met with Ray Rice and his representatives, it was ambiguous about what actually happened."
And this is the guy supposed to hand out discipline to Greg Hardy and Ray McDonald moving forward?
That's just not tenable in any way.
Goodell's ultimate demise is not about class, it's about credibility and the commissioner has lost all of his.
Much like the President, Goodell just didn't understand the optics of the situation and play the game he was supposed to play.