If the NFL had egg on its face after the bungling of the Ray Rice suspension, they dove head-first into a Denny’s Grand Slam Breakfast yesterday. Commissioner Roger Goodell’s appalling decision to only suspend Rice for two games prior to TMZ’s release of the elevator video showing the violent knockout of his then-fiancé makes the league look even worse for their initial pathetic ‘punishment’.
The security camera footage, leaked Monday morning, garnered immediate condemnation from the population, other players and pundits, and spawned swift action from the Ravens organization and the National Football League. Rice was released from the team, and subsequently suspended indefinitely from the NFL—but it immediately begged the question: Why the harsh punishment now?
The disturbing video of Rice dragging his unconscious fiancé out of a casino elevator has been out since February, and a league investigation was followed by a meaningless mea culpa from Rice, victim-blaming and willful ignorance from league-brass. Everyone knew what occurred in that elevator, yet the Ravens and the NFL were content to issue a meager suspension and allow Rice’s return considering there was no hard-evidence as to what had taken place. Meanwhile, players like Josh Gordon and Wes Welker received stronger suspensions for violations of the league’s drug policy—a season and four games, respectively.
Using the NFL’s logic in the Rice scenario, players disciplined for drug use should have a viable avenue for appealing their suspensions until videotapes surface of them in the act. Test results, handling of sample specimens and proper procedure are constantly scrutinized to possibly overturn a league punitive ruling—yet this rarely results in player reinstatement on a technicality.
Ray Rice brutally punched his wife in the face and dragged her out of an elevator like a caveman and they were willing to let him skate with a two-game ban.
This is a total failure by the NFL. Ray Rice should have never been welcomed in the Ravens locker room—he was cheered wildly at training camp—and never allowed on a field again. Many in the media are calling for a total dismantling of the league power-structure, from Commissioner Goodell down. The Ray Rice saga is yet another black mark on an organization already facing widespread scrutiny for improper concussion protocol, tax-free status and consistent sheltering of repeat offenders.
In order to remove the shroud of negative publicity from their image, the NFL must immediately reevaluate their entire code of conduct and never again allow the possibility of people like Ray Rice to fill the rosters of their teams.
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