By MAVERICK FREEDLANDER & TYLER CASHMAN
Ray Rice, former running back for the Baltimore Ravens, has made the most of his six years in the NFL; he has earned three trips to the Pro Bowl and became a Super Bowl champion in 2013. Rice, coming off of a mediocre season, was looking to bounce back in 2014 and re-establish himself as one of football’s best running backs.
He will not have the opportunity to prove himself in 2014, though. In fact, he may never be able to step on a NFL field again. Two videos surfaced of him beating and dragging his wife out of an elevator in Atlantic City, both released by TMZ (Thirty Mile Zone.) The first video, released on February 19, shows Rice dragging his unconscious then-fiancée Janay Palmer from an elevator at the Revel Casino. The second video, released on September 8, shows what happened inside the elevator. Rice and Palmer were arguing as they stepped into the elevator. Moments after the door closed, Rice hit Palmer in the face, rendering her unconscious. Hours after the release of the second video, the Baltimore Ravens outed the 27-year-old from the team, and the NFL suspended him.
The way Roger Goodell, the NFL’s commissioner, handled the crisis is almost as disturbing as the horrific beating. Initially, Goodell suspended Rice for only two games of the 2014 season. Rice admitted to what he did in that elevator, but the lack of video confirmation must have held Goodell back from giving Rice a serious penalty. After the second video was made public, Goodell suspended Rice indefinitely.
There is more to the story, however. Goodell not only had confirmation of the incident from Ray Rice but also had the videos all along. In an interview conducted by CBS, Goodell claimed, “We assumed that there was a video. We asked for video. But we were never granted that opportunity.” But an unnamed law enforcement official begs to differ; according to an interview conducted by the Associated Press, the official sent the NFL a 12-second voicemail confirming that the video arrived at NFL offices as early as April, months before Goodell claimed to have seen it.
Domestic violence is entirely unacceptable. The fact that Rice— whom so many young people admire and cheer on— committed such a violent offense is sickening. With that being said, he is not the only offender here.
Roger Goodell allowed NFL players to become arrogant in terms of what they can and cannot do. To an extent, football is a way for people to be aggressive and violent without consequences. Therefore, players should follow a strict code of limited conduct. It is important to monitor their behaviors on and, more importantly, off the field.
Domestic violence has long been a problem for football players. Many players simply cannot control their anger and aggression, often leading to actions that they regret. Desmond (Dez) Bryant, the star Dallas Cowboys wide receiver and a familiar name to many NFL fans, is an example of this. In July 2012, police arrested him for assaulting his mother after a verbal altercation. He was only required to undergo anger counseling: no charges were filed.
Who knows how many more physical abuses will go unpunished? Roger Goodell’s unwillingness to act against these abusive players gives the NFL a bad reputation. What the NFL needs is a leader who has more in mind for what is good for the sports organization as a whole, rather than what the individual players want. The NFL needs someone who will say enough is enough, set and enforce limits for the players; that someone is not Roger Goodell.