Ray Rice: The bigger issue

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“Ray Rice is a heck of a guy that made a mistake…” a comment from Baltimore Ravens head football coach John Harbaugh shortly after the arrest of his star running back in late July.

 

Not only did the Ravens organization drop the ball on this incident, but so did the Atlantic City police department and the NFL.

 

Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner, made the decision to suspend Ray Rice for the first two games of the 2014 season. This immediately raised eyebrows on the lack of repercussions for domestic violence cases within the league.

Ravens running back Ray Rice, right, and his wife Janay made statements to the news media May 5, 2014, at the Under Armour Performance Center regarding his assault charge. MCT Campus

Ravens running back Ray Rice, right, and his wife Janay made statements to the news media May 5, 2014, at the Under Armour Performance Center regarding his assault charge. MCT Campus

Just as it seemed everything was going to blow over for Rice, the Ravens and the League, TMZ released the whole video of Rice punching his then fiancé, now wife, Janay Palmer in an elevator at the Revel Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  The video is hard to watch. Hours after the video was released, the Baltimore front office made the decision to terminate Rice’s contract and cut him from their roster. The NFL quickly followed suit and suspended him from the league indefinitely.

 

They washed their hands of Rice, trying to say that they hadn’t seen the video until it was released by TMZ.

 

This brings me to the major issue I have with the NFL. Athletes have been notorious for seeming to be above the law. Although the NFL has become more strict over the last five years, they have failed terribly with their domestic violence policy … or should I say, lack thereof.

 

Players are getting suspended for an entire season, for violating a very picky and particular substance policy, and then you have notable players getting arrested for domestic violence, only getting a two game suspension.

 

There is obviously something wrong with this equation.

 

As big as the NFL is in American culture, it has been a trailblazer when it comes to dealing with issues such as this. They have ultimately dropped the ball. They had a chance to prove to the world that football is more than just a game and how you perform in society means much more than the 60 minutes of play Sunday afternoons.

 

Since the video was made public, the league has made plans to revise its’ domestic violence policy.

 

They have already come out and said that a domestic violence infraction will result in a six-game suspension for first time offenders and a possible lifetime ban for repeat offenders.

 

A more detailed policy is a must for the league. If they want to save face, they need to make a conscious effort to rework the policy so that players will think before they lay their hand on a woman, or anyone for that matter.

 

Any good football coach will tell you that you must be proactive and not reactive, whether it is in preparation or on the playing field. The NFL front office needs to heed that advice and start being proactive when it comes to off-field issues.

Author: Leif Johnston

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