At the outset, let me reiterate – this site is run by a nerd. In other words, I don’t know much about sports. So if I say something wrong about football, give me a break, OK? (By the way, how many tackles are in a home run anyway?)
In the wake of TMZ releasing footage of Ray Rice punching his then fiance (now wife), people are rightly angry at NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. They want to know what did he know and when did he know it. Did he see this video when he approved a deal earlier this year that only suspended Rice for two games? Shouldn’t Rice have been kicked out earlier anyway since there was, at the time, video available that showed him dragging her limp body out of the elevator, and could it not have been surmised, without the footage that made the incident even more “real,” that if a guy is dragging a woman out of an elevator, he must have done something bad?
I think it is great that people are upset. My only question – what took you all so long?
Ray Rice isn’t the first football player to ever abuse a significant other. He isn’t even the first football player to be accused of committing a crime. He’s just the first one to do it in front of a camera, thus providing shocking footage that the media can show over and over again. Other football player scandals seem to come, go, and be forgotten. Apparently, video tape is required to make a scandal stick.
People like Rice dishonor the game – a game I know nothing about, but hey a lot of other people do so there must be something good about it. For every Ray Rice out there, there are probably a hundred undiscovered players who would a) love a chance at the big time and b) not do anything to embarrass/dishonor the NFL if asked to join a team.
Whether it’s Plaxico Burress tucking a gun in his pants or Ray Rice punching his girlfriend, there are just too many replacements available for the NFL to have to worry about dodging and deflecting scandals. Obviously I don’t know what goes through the mind of the people who run the NFL or the Baltimore Ravens. I doubt that any of them thought something as sinister as “Hey, no problem Ray, she deserved it after all!” Rather, I assume they spent more time worrying about losing games due to the loss of a star player, fans getting angry over lost games, lost profits, etc. Unfortunately for the NFL honchos, this was a situation where morality should have come above winning games and profits.
To keep these scandals from going out of control in the future, the NFL should just make a rule – If a player is charged with committing a felony, he gets suspended. If, after his trial, he is not acquitted, then he’s fired completely, never to return to the NFL. Such a rule will give the players clear guidance – if you screw up, there’s no damage control, there’s no hold a press conference and make your battered wife vouch for you, there’s no lackluster apologies – you’re simply out, your football career is over, and that’s it. It gives the NFL guidance as well – fans are angry you cut a star player? Tough luck, your hands are tied, the rule requires you to do it.
Notice I said the player has to be acquitted – none of these hire a great lawyer and get the case postponed forever deals where you promise to get counseling and take a class about how to not beat on women.
My opinion, such a rule would put NFL/TEAM leaders, and players alike, on notice. At the end of the day, the player that screws up should be the one that takes the blame, and others shouldn’t be sucked into it. It would be great if the NFL was strong enough to not get sucked into a player’s stupidity on its own, but apparently it is not.