Critics speculated Goodell would not have responded to a male reporter in the same fashion.
Nichols suggested the image of the NFL has suffered, in part, because of conflicts of interest concerning outside consultants who investigate alleged wrongdoing.
“When you do something like hire an outside investigator like Ted Wells into the
Goodell, who appeared visibly irritated while the question was being asked, responded with what is being called a condescending answer.
"Well, Rachel, I don't agree with you in a lot of the assumptions you make in your question. I think we have had people who have had uncompromising integrity," Goodell said. "I think we have done an excellent job of bringing outside consultants in."
Goodell then attempted a zinger, which seems to be the focus of most critics' ire.
"Somebody has to pay [the investigators], Rachel," Goodell said. "So unless you're volunteering, which I don't think you are, we will do that."
The back-and-forth has become a topic for news stations and is gaining momentum on social media. Other sports reporters also addressed the incident.
"Goodell has proven he's really grown as a person through this difficult season by belittling & patronizing Rachel Nichols. #ClownCommish," tweeted CBS Sports Radio reporter Damon Amendolara.
"Given that Rachel Nichols is trending, I'd say Roger Goodell undermined that message of humility and change. #NFL," tweeted ESPN reporter Jane McManus.