On Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014 the Washington Post reported that the NFL is looking at toughening policies regarding domestic abuse, though this has not yet been confirmed by the league. As most of us know by now, in February of this year, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice had an altercation with his then fiancee, in an Atlantic City casino. The result was a rather disturbing video of Rice dragging her unconscious body out of a casino elevator. She went into the elevator (with Rice) under her own power, and then her lifeless body had to be dragged out of the elevator (by Rice) in the wake of the altercation. The video of course went viral.
The football world then waited to see what type of punishment NFL commissioner Roger Goodell would hand down for this most egregious action. The result was a surprisingly light two-game suspension, announced on July 25, 2014. Consider, if a player violates the league’s substance abuse policy, it is an automatic four-game suspension. Smoke a joint, sit out four games. Punch out your girlfriend, sit out two games. The problem here is so obvious, that there is no need for further analysis.
The real issue is that in the last collective bargaining agreement, the minimum four-game suspension for substance abuse, was agreed to by both the NFL, and the NFL players association. In contrast, there was no minimum suspension agreed to in regards to domestic violence. The NFL is now trying to right that wrong. In the end, everything may work out for the better, and help prevent these types of incidents in the future.
The public outrage over the perceived leniency of the Rice suspension, has really not died down. There was concern over the precedent set, and that every abuse case would be compared to the Ray Rice case – How would anything short of a knockout, be punished ? Fortunately, the NFL is seemingly taking steps to avoid that scenario. There is talk of an automatic four to six game suspension for the first offense, and a season-long ban for the second. In the end, the Ray Rice case may have actually paved the way for these tougher penalties, as the NFL now has the general public on it’s side. In fact, the Rice incident should have the intended effect, despite it’s leniency.
It is really all about the future, as the past cannot be changed. Rice did what he did, and his suspension, is what it is. The important thing is that going forward, the suspensions will be more fitting of the offense. No matter what Rice did, in the future, players will know beforehand, that they will be facing much stiffer penalties, should they show the same poor judgement as did Ray Rice.
In the end, this is a “win” all around. This will portray the NFL in a much more positive light, and will send the message to all the players, that this type of behavior will not be tolerated. This will also appease all those who were so outraged by the original case. Most importantly, this should be a deterrent. As a society, the fewer domestic abuse cases there are, the better. There is really no excuse for violence against females. The NFL was headed toward that slippery slope where a sub-culture of domestic violence may seem at least somewhat acceptable. Fortunately, the league saw the problem, and is now taking the proper steps. Ray Rice may have gotten off easy, but others will not.