NFL Changes Domestic Abuse Policy Out of Self Interest
The only reason that a new rule was created is related directly to the fact that Ray Rice is a star player that was caught in the act on film. If it had not been for that video this case, while disappointing, would have been just another day in the NFL. Since 2008 there have now been 14 different instances of players getting arrested for domestic violence, though not all were charged.
When you consider that the NFL stepped in at all it’s a bit of an anomaly. Out of those 14 who were charged, the NFL issued two suspensions: AJ Jefferson was suspended four games in 2013 and LeRoy Hill was suspended for one game and lost an additional game check in 2008. Otherwise, all players involved in domestic disputes were punished by their teams. This usually resulted in a release and nothing more. However, in one extreme instance in 2012 the Vikings suspended cornerback Chris Cook indefinitely (ultimately 10 games) for his gruesome domestic attack that left his girlfriend bloodied and in the hospital.
In other words, the system wasn’t broken. In a case by case approach teams—specifically the Ravens—should have handled the issue themselves without the NFL’s direct involvement. Teams have always done so in an appropriate manner. Instead, desperate to maintain an artificially clean image, the league office stepped in.
“I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I didn’t get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will.” These were the words from commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday as he issued the new policy. Don’t believe it.
Goodell is a man who doesn’t make brash decisions. Before issuing Rice’s two-game suspension he consulted with the Ravens organization, Rice and his fiancee (now wife) Janay, members of the league office, and likely the police as well. He knew every element of this case and decided that two games was fair given the circumstances. Is it truly reasonable to believe that Goodell, the straight-laced, image conscious, disciplinarian, would find himself to be that gravely wrong on his decision? C’mon man! This is nothing but a PR move, don’t buy into it.