By: Kevin McCann
On Sept. 8, TMZ released a graphic video of NFL running back Ray Rice striking his then-fiancée in a New Jersey casino elevator. The clip caused Rice to be quickly released by the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely from the NFL by commissioner Roger Goodell.
This was not a heroic, noble gesture on the part of the commissioner, however. He had no other choice. Since the altercation occurred in mid-February, Rice had managed to avoid severe punishment from both the law (no jail time) and the NFL (only a two-game suspension). This mild sentence caused a public outcry, with voices questioning whether or not the NFL took domestic violence seriously.
According to NFL Insider Adam Schefter, this fiasco is “arguably the biggest black eye the league has ever had.” The clumsy and humiliating handling of the situation should be grounds for Goodell’s resignation from the NFL.
Had this video not been released, Goodell would have allowed Rice to rejoin his team and play in the Ravens’ third football game of the season. After the release, however, Goodell admitted he was wrong with the way he handled the situation and created harsher penalties for future players involved in domestic violence. Yet Rice’s punishment remained unchanged, and it looked like he would be returning to play for the Ravens soon.
Now, TMZ’s latest, more conclusive video ignited a chain reaction which led to Rice’s indefinite suspension from the NFL, and saved Goodell and the league from even further embarrassment. According to statements released by the NFL, neither the Ravens nor Goodell had knowledge of this shocking video before it was released to the general public.
This makes absolutely zero sense. Jane McManus of ESPN tweeted that the NFL had access to the same evidence that police did when the league handed down its original two-game suspension. It is unlikely that police would have overlooked these tapes while investigating the case.
As Schefter stated, “If the NFL had seen that video and suspended Ray Rice two games, it’s an embarrassment of the highest proportion.”
It appears as if Goodell either watched the video and ignored it, or chose not to fully investigate this terrible incident and made a decision without all of the facts. In either scenario, the commissioner did not give Rice’s situation the full attention it deserved, which is unacceptable and reflects poorly on the NFL’s stance on domestic violence.
While Rice’s domestic violence case may be the most publicized in the NFL’s history, it is not even close to being the only one. San Francisco defensive end Ray McDonald has played the first three weeks of the NFL season despite being arrested on Aug. 31 for allegedly beating his fiancée. Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers was recently charged with choking his girlfriend and threatening to kill her. Superstar running back Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings was indicted earlier this month on child abuse charges.
The NFL has still not taken any official action on any of these three players. What exactly is Goodell waiting for?
Keith Olbermann of ESPN recently called for Goodell’s resignation on his regular television program. “Roger Goodell’s existence, who he is, what he has turned the NFL commissioner’s office into, is now symbolized by Ray Rice’s brutal left hand striking Janay Palmer and striking her again. Mr. Goodell is an enabler of men who beat women. His position within the National Football League is no longer tenable,” said Olbermann.
If TMZ hadn’t forced Goodell’s hand, Ray Rice would have been playing football in less than a week with thousands of cheering fans in support. The near occurrence of this nightmare scenario speaks to the commissioner’s utter incompetence at his job and the negative influence he has had on the league. Whether he played a role in a cover-up of the revealing video or he simply did not fully investigate the matter, Goodell made a grave error which has left a permanent black spot on the NFL. The commissioner needs to do the right thing– without being forced this time– and follow Ray Rice right out of the NFL.