Recent revelations in the drawn-out story of NFL running back Ray Rice have shed light on a problem that goes beyond the individual incident.
The video of Ray Rice pulling his unconscious wife from a hotel elevator in February sparked national controversy and brought up a torrent of dialogue about violence against women.
Tensions rose as commentators put in their opinions on the matter, like that of ESPN sportscaster Stephen A. Smith, whose poorly worded opinion about women’s role in reducing domestic violence warranted an on-air apology after serving an ESPN-imposed one week suspension.
Whoopi Goldberg even had something to say about the issue, defending Stephen A. Smith, saying that women should not expect chivalry, and thus shouldn’t provoke men and not expect a physical reaction.
This column will not add its opinion to the growing body of takes on the Ray Rice scandlan; instead, it will focus on NFL commissioner Rodger Goodell .
After the initial charges were filed against Rice, Goodell handed down a two-game suspension. That’s right, two games.
Off-the-field conduct, it would have seemed, was not all that important to the NFL’s suspension policies.
After entertainment giant TMZ released additional footage from the hotel, which showed Rice punching his wife, who fell, hitting her head on a metal bar and dropping unconscious to the ground, the Baltimore Ravens dropped Rice from the team and the NFL handed down an indefinite suspension from the league.
But what changed? It had already been determined that Rice had punched his wife. CBS anchor Norah O’Donnell asked, “Did you really need to see a videotape of Ray Rice punching her in the face to make this decision?”
Goodell responded, “No. We certainly didn’t. And I will tell you that what we saw on the first videotape was troubling to us in and of itself … [b]ut what we saw yesterday was extremely clear, it was extremely graphic, and it was sickening.”
So, actually, you did need to? Or is the problem that you were covering up the fact that Ray Rice makes the NFL so much money that it was worth it (for a time) to keep him in the league and boosting jersey sales and Nike advertisements instead of punishing him for his crime?
I’m going to guess that Goodell was hedging his bet on the hopes that the elevator footage wouldn’t come to light and he would never need to answer for why Rice was given such a lenient punishment. But now, he’s fumbling on his own words and making an utter mockery of any semblance of a just organization that Goodell was trying to instill in the public.