Over the years the NFL has been rocked by scandals. From obstructions of justice to murder charges (and not just OJ’s), I doubt many fans are really surprised anymore.
However, another case of domestic violence committed by one star has left the game’s commissioner standing in the line of fire.
Earlier this year, running back Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens was caught on video trying to carry the unconscious body of his then-fiancée from a hotel elevator. And despite a police report stating Rice had rendered her unconscious, the punishment for the act was a deplorable two-game suspension.
After the penny finally dropped and Commissioner Roger Goodell became steadily aware of the repugnant sentence, a standard ruling was put into a place whereby domestic violence offenses would result in a six-game ban.
And despite Rice’s clearly despicable actions, Goodell’s ignorance was highlighted once more when TMZ presented a second video depicting the events, this time inside the elevator instead of out.
Finally, Rice’s offenses are worthy of the new punishment bestowed upon him: indefinite suspension from the game and the immediate abandonment of sponsors.
To play devil’s advocate
But the real issue isn’t actually with Rice. On the whole, Goodell has been a great commissioner for the league. He has increased revenues and made the game even more commercially prosperous even when that didn’t seem a possibility. However, Goodell’s recklessness in handling Rice’s situation has left many questioning whether he can aptly lead from the front when it comes to disciplinary issues.
“When we met with Ray Rice and his representatives, it was ambiguous about what actually happened.”
That was the commissioner’s response about the first video, published online back in February, during an interview with CBS This Morning.
To play devil’s advocate, one could make the argument that since the incident wasn’t explicitly visible there could be more to what happened in that elevator. You know, the same as when you cover your kid’s eyes when the scary bit of the movie comes on because if they can’t see it then maybe Edward Scissorhands didn’t really cut those ladies’ hair.
(Note: I may or may not have been irrationally terrified of Mr. Scissorhands as a child.)
But the real kicker is in the NFL’s denial of never having seen the tape leading to the pathetic verdict originally imparted to Rice. This week law enforcement officials revealed to the Associated Press they had sent the league a copy of the second video clearly showing Rice knocking out Janay Rice, née Palmer.
NFL Mandatory Minimums: Wrist Slapping
Rice’s expulsion from the game only came after TMZ got hold of the footage and published it online.
Why was Goodell so eager to play down the incident? Had he acted appropriately from the start then neither he, nor the NFL, would be under such national and international scrutiny.
Unless it is proven Goodell tried to cover up the Rice case then it is unlikely he will resign his post as commissioner any time soon, ignoring the many calls for his head. As is the nature in sports, a slap on the wrist is, apparently, more than enough.
What has at least been (once again) demonstrated to the public is the sheer lack of responsibility taken over these types of situations. So long as the league makes the money, why would you want to interfere with an irrefutably profitable machine? In fact, it could be argued the action of sponsors removing any and all affiliation with Rice led to his eventual exclusion.
When life gives you apples to oranges…
Many will say this and similar articles attacking the NFL are sensational and overactive. That may be the case in some situations. But a sport such as football, viewed by millions of people, men and boys of all ages, cannot so willingly allow players, and managers, to continue participating in the league after the occurrence of damning episodes of violent behavior. Not only is it criminal to send such a message to impressionable youngsters, but there will be no incentive for the few players involved to stop.
Just look at Ray McDonald of the San Francisco 49ers who was taken into custody by police. Responding to a 911 call, McDonald’s pregnant fiancée had reportedly suffered noticeable bruises on her arms and neck.
And despite the arrest coming just three days after the NFL announced their tougher domestic violence policy, McDonald posted his $25,000 bail and was back at practice, the 49ers refusing to sit him out.
Comparing his teammate to Rice, 49ers guard Alex Boone told USA TODAY Sports:
“This is completely different. There’s no video of [McDonald] hitting a woman. They’re still going through the process of the investigation. So it’s really apples to oranges.”
Apples to oranges… Or is it just the fact there’s no video (yet) available?
Maybe the police should place a call to TMZ…