The NFL’s storm of troubles

Rachel Keslosky
Staff Writer

Baltimore Ravens fans everywhere are rejoicing over this week’s win against our team’s rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers.

This particular Ravens’ fan is not rejoicing over the NFL’s poor judgment calls in regards to Ray Rice.

ray riceTo quickly recap, Ray Rice and his now-wife, Janay, were involved in an argument in an Atlantic City casino elevator back in February that left her lying on the floor after Rice threw a punch. According to Sports Illustrated, the former running back for the Ravens was indicted on third-degree aggravated assault charges. The NFL had suspended him for the first two games of the 2014 season, and he was sentenced to a pre-intervention program designed for first-time offenders.

Last week, TMZ released the footage of the incident and it shocked the world. Rice was then released by his team and indefinitely suspended by the NFL.

What bothers me the most about this reaction is how the NFL and the Ravens quickly jumped out of their seats to make it seem like this was brand-new information regarding the incident. It is unclear as to whether or not the NFL had this video since the start of the investigation.

Roger Goodell, commissioner to the league, stated to CBS: “We had not seen any videotape of what occurred in the elevator. We assumed that there was a video. We asked for anything that’s pertinent. But we were never granted that opportunity.”

I was also confused as to why a domestic violence charge resulted in a suspension for only two games. According to the suspensions tracker on Spotrac, more than ten players are currently suspended for at least four games due to violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Is knocking someone unconscious considered to be of a lower degree of violation than substance abuse?

The White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, released a statement on behalf of President Barack Obama saying that, “…he believes that domestic violence is contemptible and unacceptable in a civilized society.”

The NFL has really dropped the ball on this, and they’re now being heavily criticized for it. Ravens owner, Steve Bisciotti, isn’t in the clear in my mind either. In his apology on behalf of the organization, he states that they should have dived further into the investigation and that Rice’s contributions over the past six years had earned him the benefit of the doubt.

Even though he was a valuable player, his actions are inexcusable.

goodellWhere does this leave Rice now? According to CBS News, he’s currently losing all of his endorsements and sponsors. Electronic Arts will be removing his image from Madden NFL 15, and Nike Inc. has cut its ties. His jersey, No. 27, has been pulled from many sporting goods stores—such as Dick’s and Modell’s—and has ceased being sold on the NFL fan shop website. The Ravens are also offering an exchange service, which will take place this weekend, for officially licensed jerseys bought by fans.

Goodell has since called upon former FBI director, Robert Mueller III, to begin an independent investigation of the incident. This will include the NFL’s handling of the evidence, and whether or not the elevator footage was given to the league. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, the final report will be made public once the investigation is complete. Although Goodell has offered to cooperate fully, it has been suggested that he resign.

As much as I love football, I’ll be more reluctant to watch any game—the Ravens or any other team—if the NFL doesn’t begin to take violations in a more serious manner. It’s been twenty years since the Violence Against Women Act was passed. Let’s start taking domestic violence seriously, America.