Goodell let us down with Rice suspension
Posted July 25, 2014
Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was suspended for the first two games of the 2014 season Thursday for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy following his arrest for domestic violence in February.
The announcement from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell of a 2-game suspension was met with immediate backlash on social media as fans felt the punishment was weak considering the ‘crime’ – and I agree.
In case anyone is unfamiliar with the circumstances surrounding Rice’s arrest, arrest records stated he struck his then-fiancé and video surfaced of Rice dragging her unconscious from a casino elevator in Atlantic City.
Rice pleaded not guilty to a third-degree charge of aggravated assault and avoided trial by being accepted into a pretrial intervention program in May. Under the personal conduct policy, the NFL can suspend a player even if he isn't charged or convicted of a crime.
To be fair, his fiance was also arrested on the same charges that night and has since married Rice. So she must not have any hard feelings towards him.
But regardless of whether both parties were involved, a male struck a female or vice versa – domestic violence on any level is not okay. This is an issue that is extremely important to me and one that the NFL could have taken a stance on in how it dealt with the punishment of Ray Rice.
I feel like Roger Goodell let us all down.
I have seen arguments made that players that get caught for violating the substance abuse policy earn 4-6 game suspensions, or players that illegally hit players with pads on during a game can receive the same suspension for someone who hits a girl with his fist.
It’s easy to compare it to other violations but it shouldn’t be. The Rice incident happened off the playing field and doesn’t directly affect his job – as drugs or an illegal hit do. It does however affect the integrity of the NFL and reflects on him, his team, his popularity as a player and forces his coach to make a statement on a very touchy issue.
I applaud Rice for attending counseling and for Goodell to make a point of saying he is expected to continue to attend counseling.
Counseling seems more than necessary for someone who apparently knocks another person unconscious – especially a person he/she claims to love. But beyond the counseling, Goodell had an opportunity to make a point that the NFL does not stand for domestic violence and quite possibly ‘scare’ Rice straight.
Ndamukong Suh has not learned from his multiple fines and suspensions. Josh Gordon, Justin Blackmon have not learned from theirs. Sometimes it takes a drastic move to make someone change, sometimes a fan base needs the reassurance from the most popular sport in the country that they won’t stand for domestic abuse.
Goodell hasn’t asked to be a spokesperson for social issues and sports was never intended to be an avenue to better the mindset of the human race – but they can be.
We’ve seen example of that in the Los Angeles Clippers and Don Sterling case in the NBA and the St. Louis Rams and Michael Sam.
A couple hundred grand and a few games won’t make or break a professional athlete but it can make a grander statement to a fan base. One that on this occasion, I’m sad to say fell short.