Monday, September 08, 2014

The NFL and Ray Rice

"This is going to be a tough one, but there's a lot at stake here.  It seems to me that the NFL needs to make a clear statement that they're encouraging their players to behave and act as responsible human beings, and not simply like brute force giants trained for combat on the field."

I wrote that last November, after the Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin workplace harassment scandal.

The fact that the NFL did the right thing in that instance makes their failure to do the right thing in the Ray Rice case even more unforgivable.  And the excuse ringing down from on high at NFL headquarters - that the most recent video wasn't made available to NFL "investigators" - just makes things worse.

Ray Rice dragged his unconscious fiancee out of an elevator.  And no one should forget that what was seen in the original video was deemed to be worthy of a two-game suspension. 

So what more did Roger Goodell really need to know/see?  What could possibly have happened in that elevator which would have made what Rice did subject to such a measly penalty?

No, it was only when confronted with a video that evoked memories of Joe Frazier sending a left hook to the jaw of Muhammad Ali that Goodell did "the right thing."  Just like a couple of weeks ago when he did "the right thing" by instituting stronger penalties for domestic violence violations.

But it was already too late to do the right thing.  And just like countless scandals before it, this one will be defined by the reaction of the party in authority as much as by the transgression itself.

I don't mind admitting that I love football.  And there's little doubt in my mind that the vast majority of men who play football are decent and hard working, and in many cases much more than that.  And this just makes me more pissed at the NFL and at Roger Goodell for screwing this up.

This ain't rocket science, Mr. Commissioner.  There's a place for due process, but there's also place for humanity in the game.  And none of the talk on ESPN right now about how you and the Ravens "did the right thing" is going to change that.

Your move.

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