NFL Needs to Reevaluate Goodell
The thing that struck me the most over the past couple of days of the Ray Rice/NFL hearings isn’t the actual act of what happened in that Atlantic City elevator, it’s the feeling around the incident. In other words, the sizzle of that controversy has died down substantially. On a scale of 1-10…10 being highly intense, this controversy is now about a 6…down from an 11 just 2 months ago. When the TMZ video of the punch in the elevator hit the public consciousness, the entire country wanted Rice to begin an immediate lifetime sentence in the nearest federal penitentiary. No arraignment, no trial, just put him away, we had never seen anything as horrific as that. Except we had and we will again, unfortunately not too far in the future.
Supposedly the lesson we should all learn from the Ray Rice incident isn’t that men shouldn’t hit women. Well if that’s the lesson, we all need to be put away for ignorance. That fact didn’t start with Ray Rice – we’ve known forever that men shouldn’t hit women just like we didn’t need Adrian Peterson to teach us that a grown adult shouldn’t beat a child bloody, or that we shouldn’t torture dogs like Michael Vick did. We’ve known, or should have known, these facts since we were old enough to comprehend them. What we need to learn from the Rice and Peterson ordeals is that we need to step back, take a pause and look at the facts of the case with a clear head. Not with the judgmental, over-reacting, emotional response of a lynch mob. Sure we knew right away that something bad had happened, and collectively we weren’t going to let it go away or go unpunished because our society today is filled with Judge Judys. We all get a say in who the bad guy is and what should be done to them…or at least we think we should. But look how we’ve all moved on to more current topics like Isis, Ebola, the elections – there’s always another big story right around the corner.
In testimony the past couple of days, Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome along with Rice have stated that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell did indeed know that Rice hit his then fiancé in the elevator. Goodell claims he wasn’t aware of that fact until the TMZ video surfaced. Former district judge Barbara Jones will decide if Rice continues his suspension or is allowed to return to the league. Goodell may be in the proverbial hotseat if it is proven that he knew all along what Rice did, but only came down hard on the running back after the media and public opinion heat turned up after the video surfaced. If Goodell and the NFL looked at the Rice evidence back in June and ruled that a 2 game suspension, half million dollar fine and counseling was adequate, then he should own up to that decision. Sure he can, and should, admit that the punishment and policy needs to be changed in the future, but when he got caught in the wave of the public perception and hit Rice again and harder, he opened the door for Rice to sue the league and at the very least embarrass it.
Presumably smart people put the punishment guidelines in place after a lot of thought and council. If they need to be changed, then go ahead and do that, but to arbitrarily change the rules because you can’t take the heat, well it tells me that Goodell isn’t the best man to be sitting in the commissioner’s seat.