I love professional football, American football and I literally inhale every bit of information I can regarding that sport. I have been watching the NFL Draft for as long as I can remember and I used to hold Draft parties every year, until they changed the format of the Draft that is. I am a massive fan of the Chicago Bears and I love just watching NFL games. My mantra in life is simple "Football is life, the rest are just details."
With that "love" I have I always pay attention to the "wire" to see who is hurt, on the disabled list, who has been suspended and unfortunately who has been arrested. In February I read about a domestic violence report regarding Ray Rice, a running back for the Baltimore Ravens and his wife and I was interested to see what exactly the case would entail. First of all domestic violence is a crime that is vile, cowardly, and the desperate act of a spouse (or significant other) against their counterpart in a desperate attempt to control them. I cannot think of a single instance where physical violence against ones mate is acceptable unless the other party is brandishing some kind of weapon in an offensive attack.
When the NFL reacted to the Rice incident they began and completed some sort of investigation and subsequently they concluded that their appropriate response was a two game suspension much to the chagrin of many. With the exception of most kickers and punters NFL players are massive in stature, they are built for the gladiator-like punishment they take during the course of a season. Rice however is a smaller man, he is 5'-8, 206 pounds (from NFL.com) but being a starting running back this man is extremely powerful. Rice is used to hitting and being hit by massive defensive players and he can take that physical abuse play after play, game after game, his then girlfriend (now wife) who is smaller in stature, much smaller cannot.
In a video released by TMZ on September 8th, 2014 it shows Rice hitting his female companion and her head hitting a handrail inside of an elevator, knocking her unconscious. Rice is later seen dragging her unconscious body out of the elevator in which he was later arrested for the assault. Rice was later indicted by the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office on third degree aggravated assault, but when the victim refused to testify the charges were reduce Rice then pleaded guilt and received court supervised counseling. The NFL then responded by suspending Rice for two regular season games, and when the video came out on the 8th, the NFL backtracked with Roger Goodell released a statement stating:
"I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I didn't get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will." - NFL.com - September 8th, 2014
In an attempt to rectify the situation Goodell announced that Rice was suspended indefinitely. Until September 8th the team in which Rice plays for, the Baltimore Ravens, had done nothing to punish Rice however their response following the appearance of the video was to release him from the team.
Although the reaction from the Ravens and the NFL are far too late, the two judgements are welcomed. The NFL has announced a statement in which their "Violations of Personal Conduct Policy" was outlined including disciplinary actions. For a first offense the offender would be suspended for six weeks without pay, whereas a second offense will result in banishment from the league BUT the player will be allowed to apply for reinstatement following one year with no guarantee of reinstatement. Really? How stupid is that? Banishment with a chance to come back after a year. That's not a punishment, that is a vacation for most of these guys. I would bet my bottom dollar that depending on the star power of a player may help the reinstatement of the violator.
Commissioner Goodell if you really want to make us believe that such offenses will REALLY be enforced then make it a lifetime ban following a conviction with a suspension without pay until the matter is settled in the courts. It is commonplace for regular men and women that get arrested for domestic abuse to be prosecuted based on evidence gathered regardless of the denial of a the person that has been abused because many of the abused continue to go back to their abuser thus allowing for the abuse to continue. I don't buy your "punishment," put some teeth in it, real teeth then maybe I and the other fans of the NFL will believe that this is about punishing those offenders that participate in this cowardly act.
I said it earlier and I will say it again, domestic abuse is a vile, cowardly act that is an attempt to control someone physically. Fear is a great equalizer and beating the living tar out of someone that is that much less capable to defend themselves against the offender is cowardice. Domestic violence is unfortunately commonplace in our society today, it goes across all classes of society. The NFL is no different than the working class (or any class for that matter) and the result of domestic violence is often the same. While most abusers and their victims really don't have the same impact as those in the NFL do the fact of the matter is that the abusers are cowards. If you want to hit your spouse or significant other do yourself and your victim a favor walk away and get some freaking help. There are agencies and trained individuals that are there for that purpose.
What Mr. Rice did to his girlfriend (now wife) is reprehensible and I can only HOPE that no teams in the NFL decide to sign this man ever again. If Mr. Rice is re-instated by the league in the future it will be proof that all that matters is winning and if any team signs this man I will take pleasure in watching that team lose and I will take great pleasure watching your revenues plummet in the process. Get some teeth in that Personal Conduct Policy, real teeth and prove to your fans that you actually care about your fans. Mr. Rice I hope that you can get the help you need and I sincerely hope that Carl's Jr. needs a dishwasher.