It was bound to be a much talked about topic, but the NFL, the Ravens, Ray Rice and even sports media could not have expected the backlash after the two game suspension everyone has waited for. The idea of this punishment being accepted in society, let alone in a private multi-billion dollar corporation, is downright appalling to anyone that has a functioning brain and a television. But where does the real problem lie here? Obviously Rice has a major issue he should handle, which has been covered since day 1 of this incident. But this whole situation reeks of a much grander cultural issue in the NFL and sports in America.
To start, the main excuse for such a lenient reaction by Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Ravens organization is that “he has never done anything wrong before” is blatantly asinine. All CRIMINALS HAVE A CLEAN TRACK RECORD BEFORE THEIR FIRST CRIME! Why does his past “good behavior” allow Rice to strike a woman? Why is anyone looking at his charitable endeavors as a reason that he should be given more leniency towards such a heinous act? Because he has performed well in the most popular sport in the country, all the while being a stand up citizen for his first six seasons, does not give him (or anyone) a pass on judgement.
Yet the NFL powers decided that knocking a woman unconscionable is only worthy of half the punishment for taking Adderall without clearance from the the league offices. Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Lane Jonhson was the last to receive a suspension by a league before Rice; four games for not reporting to the league that he was taking a prescription drug that contained a banned substance.
Any defense of Rice’s actions shows immaturity and undermines the moral fabric of the entire NFL fan base. The statement has arisen, “We don’t know if he did anything in that elevator.” Well we all certainly know what the police report says. It states that Rice struck his girlfriend using his hands. We all know that Rice himself felt the need to publicly apologize for his actions. I can’t remember the last time I apologized for not doing anything wrong. We all know that the NFL Commissioner had enough evidence to suspend Rice. There would certainly be a ensuing legal battle if he were innocent, yet still receive punishment.
Yet Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh wants to state that “[Ray Rice] is a good guy.” I’m sorry but when you find it necessary to use physical force against a woman than NO HE IS NOT! This simply proves the team (like the rest of the league) is just worried about winning and not HUMAN DECENCY. We have seen this in the past as the Ravens publicly backed the likes of Ray Lewis, Jamal Lewis, Chris McAlister and Terrell Suggs during their legal troubles. I guess that is why the team did not have the gumption to take action when they were handed all of the same evidence that led to this suspension.
But in the end it is not Rice’s fault that the league office felt some sort of sympathy on his case. And that is where the real issue comes to the forefront. The NFL has stood by its players to a fault; where well known and reported criminals can get away with breaking the law because they can play football. The players have no recourse knowing that the league will let them back in with open arms no matter how despicable the act.
There were 19 arrests this off season (5 of which by those who play in Baltimore), yet many of those players will be allowed to go back to there daily lives and daily earnings without any repercussions what so ever. Has anyone even mentioned throwing out a suspension for Deonte Thompson or Jah Reid or Lorenzo Talliferro or Jimmy Smith? NO!
And just maybe, if the NFL did put in a policy TO NOT GET ARRESTED or you will lose out on your livelihood, like they have with their substance abuse and performance enhancing drug policies, players would be less inclined to act like delinquents off the field. Maybe it is time for the NFL to take a stand against their EMPLOYEES ACTING AS CRIMINALS. Roger Goodell certainly had a chance to prove a point with Ray Rice and he missed terribly.
Now the court of public opinion is weighing down on the league and rightfully so, as the NFL’s culture of protecting its product has proven to outweigh the importance HUMAN DECENCY. I dare anyone to go out, hit their wife in public or get arrested with multiple DUIs or get caught with illegal narcotics on several different occasions or any other crime and still be allowed to show their face at their place of business the next day. So why does the most powerful sports league in the world just deem these actions as acceptable or commonplace?
After Goodell laid down this “punishment” on Ray Rice, I personally felt ashamed to consider myself a diehard fan of the NFL. It is an embarrassment for the NFL to consider its fan base so neanderthalic and stupid to not understand what is fair and just.