I love football and, because I do, I'm willing to overlook a lot of faults in the players. Some are inarticulate, some get caught DWI (or worse), and it is obvious that some believe they are above the law.
It's also no secret that when the Saints were penalized for the bounty issue a few years ago I thought that the NFL Commissioner was taking out a lot of his frustration on the Saints for their failure to back his play when he tried to grab the "Who Dat" slogan as an NFL trademark. In a guest post I wrote on another blog, if the Saints were actually paying players to injure other players then they deserved to be punished but when the evidence, or actually the lack of evidence, came out, the Saints fans had lost a season of good football with no evidence of bounties.
What is happening in the NFL now is ridiculous as are the remarks of Goodell and his apologists. Ray Rice got a two game suspension after hitting his girlfriend. When the unexpected uproar occurred about the penalty being too small and then was followed by the release of the video showing the assault, suddenly Goodell felt the hot seat was too hot and indefinitely suspended Rice.
There is no excuse for what Ray Rice did and I personally don't care if they give him a lifetime ban. What I do care about is that he had already admitted to hitting his fiance and, although he may have downplayed the event, whether he hit her with his fist or an open hand, HE STILL HIT HER.
This isn't the first time an NFL player has faced these issues and it's not even the first time in the last year, but it is the first time it has generated this much press. Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers has already been convicted and appealed with no action by the NFL (although the team did announce he was inactive for the game today), charges are pending against 49er Ray McDonald, and there are others. An article on Slate.com stated:
…Using data from USA Today and the San Diego Union-Tribune, we collected information on active players who have been charged with or arrested for domestic violence, sexual assault, or assaults against women. The 49ers lead the league with four such players. The Arizona Cardinals have three; one of those men, Chris Rainey, is on the team’s practice squad rather than the 53-man roster, while another, Daryl Washington, is currently serving a suspension for a substance abuse violation. The Super Bowl champion Seahawks, like the Chicago Bears, have two. (The Ravens also had two until they cut Rice.) By our count, nine additional teams have at least one player who has been charged or arrested for such a crime, a number that is down from the last time we did this count in 2012. Keep in mind, though, that we’re only counting arrests and criminal charges, meaning this tally does not include players like the Ravens’ Terrell Suggs, who was accused of domestic abuse on two occasions but was never charged with a crime.
Interestingly, the coaches for both the Seahawks and the 49ers have come out and denounced domestic violence and yet have taken no action on their players.
This week Adrian Peterson, the superstar running back for the Minnesota Vikings, was indicted, aka "true billed", by a grand jury (who had reportedly no billed him just a week before).
All of this has brought national attention to a situation that has been allowed to go on for too long, and by that I mean domestic violence in general not just in the NFL.
But the issue was brought to the forefront by a video that embarrassed Goodell and the NFL because it showed exactly what happened and people react more to what they see than to what they hear. Goodell's mistake wasn't in the indefinite suspension, it was in the original two game suspension he handed down because "he hadn't seen the video".
The distinction between an open handed slap or a punch to the jaw is a matter of degree. They are both domestic violence. And no matter how much Howie Long or Jay Glazer defend the Commissioner, anyone who tries to say that the video made all the difference is ignoring the truth, domestic violence is domestic violence and Goodell has failed to act on it for years now, instead handing down harsh punishments based solely on his opinions and feelings.
It's time for Goodell to go and it's time for the NFL to act like it is providing examples for the nation, because it is. The kind of example is obvious but it can be changed.