The National Football League (NFL) has come under fire in recent weeks after Baltimore Ravens’ tailback Ray Rice received only a two-game suspension for domestic violence after an incident with his fiancée. On the surface, one might say it’s good the NFL took action, and he didn’t get away with it.
However, the video does not lie. In February, TMZ showed a video of Rice pulling his unconscious wife out of an elevator. The video shows him dragging the seemingly lifeless body, acting inconvenienced by the situation. After seeing the video, one has to ask why only a two-game suspension? How is it that such an obvious offense warranted only rehab without jail time?
While the criminal justice system is another thing, the NFL is under fire. When Roger Goodell took over the league several years ago, he vowed to clean things up. Gone are the days of the Cowboys snorting cocaine and being picked up by the cops only to hit the field on Sunday as if nothing was wrong. Of course, when it comes to the Cowboys, gone are the days of winning, but that too is the subject of another editorial.
Goodell has worked to take a strong stance on inappropriate behavior, suspending players right and left for their behavior off the field. But, he seemed to stop short on domestic violence. A player can smoke a joint, which is legal in some states such as Denver and Washington where there are NFL teams, and get suspended for up to four games.
A player, such as Rice, can punch his fiancée in the face, knock her out, drag her body from an elevator while cameras are watching, and get suspend for only two games.
This is not only an example of how people with power or money seem to continue to skate by, but it’s also a signal that we still aren’t making as much progress as we’d like to think on issues such as domestic violence.
Statistics, especially when compared to the 1970s, definitely show major progress. It shows that overall violence against women, and overall domestic violence against men has decreased. However, violence still happens, laws are still broken and justice should be served, even if it’s the NFL taking the action by benching a player who thinks he is above the law and can get away with such behavior.
In a recent press conference, with his fiancée sitting at the other end of the table looking disinterested, Rice promised it was a one-time incident, a one-time mistake that he’ll never make again. Given the few repercussions to his actions – I can’t say I’m sold on the good-guy routine.
In May, Rice made a point to hold a press conference and apologize to his fans, not his fiancée. This week when the backlash of the NFL having a stricter policy on pot smoking their punching women in the face, he held this second press conference. At least in this one he said sorry to her – something his publicist likely told him to do.
Since Rice is only out two games, maybe he can remember to take his aggression to the players he can legally hit on the football field, instead of the one he’s supposed to love, honor and respect at home.
However, as the saying goes “once a cheater, always a cheater” – in Rice’s case, once an abuser, always an abuser.