Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Too Little Too Late for NFL Domestic Violence Policy



Illustration by Emma Rust.

The NFL clearly has a problem on its hands when it comes to domestic violence. This summer, a video surfaced of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice dragging his unconscious then-girlfriend, now wife Janay Palmer out of an elevator by her hair. Rice had allegedly knocked Palmer out seconds before in the elevator. Video footage from inside the elevator was made public on Monday and brought Rice’s relatively lax, two-game suspension back into the public discussion, while also completely clearing up what had occurred inside the elevator.

As a result of the new footage, Rice has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL and was released by the Ravens organization. The Ravens originally stood behind Rice due to what he claimed happened inside the elevator during the night in question, a story that now was clearly fabricated in an attempt to save himself.

There has been much speculation about why NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell took it so easy on Rice originally, ranging from the looming suspension of Colts owner Jim Irsay to being fearful of being embarrassed as he was after the Bounty Gate scandal in New Orleans two years ago. Irsay was suspended for six games and fined the league-maximum: $500,000 –– a much harsher punishment than was doled out to Rice.

Since the original suspension and the subsequent backlash, the NFL has adopted a stronger policy regarding domestic violence. A first offense would lead to a six-game ban, a second offense would lead to an indefinite suspension. The idea of the indefinite suspension is that a player would essentially be kicked out of the league with the ability to petition for reinstatement. Rice’s suspension seems to have bypassed the first violation given his lies during the investigation and the nature of the attack seen on the video.

Since the first Rice suspension, Goodell has issued one lengthy suspension to the 49ers’ Aldon Smith for a string of incidents. This was widely seen as an attempt for Goodell to regain the respect of the players and to ensure that players tarnishing the image of the league will be punished in accordance with the magnitude of their transgressions. Then, only two days after the announcement of the new domestic violence punishments, Smith’s teammate Ray McDonald was arrested for allegedly striking his pregnant girlfriend.

49ers’ Coach Jim Harbaugh had previously stated that he would forgive almost any mistake made by a player with the exception of hitting a woman. The wording of the new policy says that the NFL can act before the authorities if the action is seen to be a threat to the sanctity of the league.

The new policy was widely applauded in all circles, but that doesn’t mean it is without controversy. Yahoo! Sports came out with a list of players who would have possibly been kicked out of the league under the new policy, most notably the Bears’ Brandon Marshall. Marshall was arrested twice between 2003-2005 for domestic incidents, but since has been diagnosed and treated for borderline personality disorder. Marshall has since become an activist for the mental heath community and a model NFL citizen.

The video evidence made it clear to the community that Ray Rice should never step on a professional football field ever again. The justice system let Rice off the hook by letting him plead down, but the NFL took the most drastic measures available when the true nature of incident come to light. This suspension will hopefully send a message to the NFL community as a whole that the league is taking the issue seriously and that domestic violence and football are not a winning combination.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Whitman Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *