The League’s Hypocritical Stance is Embarrassing
February 14, 2014.
Ray Rice and his then fiancé Janay Palmer travel to Atlantic City’s Revel casino where they do what most people do in AC. They gamble and drink. But they drink too much and things get out of control.
You know the rest of the story. It was caught on tape and played on TV countless times. It circulated throughout social media like an out of control California forest fire.
Since the unfortunate incident, Rice has paid dearly, yet to his credit he hasn’t run for cover. Instead he has almost willingly stepped up as the poster child for domestic violence. He’s been self-deprecating. He’s implored young athletes not to travel his path – to seek help and counsel instead.
You really can’t ask a man to do much more than Rice has in the face of this self-inflicted wound, yet he still can’t catch a break. He still can’t land an NFL job. He can’t get on the field to complete his road to redemption.
Shame on the hypocrites of the NFL for not enabling such a journey.
It would be one thing if the league came down hard on domestic violence with a zero-tolerance policy and that represented the norm for the league. Instead, the NFL pretends to be concerned about domestic violence. Oh sure, all 32 owners and their respective front offices can ostracize you with the best of them if they don’t think you can help them on the field. Just ask Rice.
If they think you’ve got something left in the tank and/or play a position that isn’t as devalued in today’s NFL as “running back”, they’ll look the other way and give you a second or third or fourth chance. Ask Greg Hardy or Brandon Marshall or Adrian Peterson.
Ask Joe Mixon.
Like Ray Rice, Mixon hit a woman and again, like Rice, it was caught on video. But unlike Rice, NFL talent evaluators think that Mixon has a future. Rice? He averaged just 3.1 yards per carry the last season he played and in light of that, boy does that left upper cut look damning.
Clearly it was more damning than Mixon’s right cross, or Hardy using his girlfriend as a speed bag, or Peterson breaking out the whooping stick on his kid. And then of course there was Marshall whose former fiancé called 911 more often than Bryant McKinnie called out for Domino’s.
You get the point…
If you are going to lay down the law because it truly is about advocating for change and Ray Rice is the benchmark, then be consistent. Don’t make exceptions for players who can help your team. If you break the law, you break the law and such actions should have clear consequences.
Marvin Lewis is a great guy. If you bump into him at a bar, and I have, he’s easy to strike up a conversation with and an hour or so later you’ll feel like you’ve known him your entire life. But besides being the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals, Marvin also thinks he’s the Thug Whisperer. Over the past 17 years, the Bengals have had nine assaults, nine DUIs and six domestic violence cases. Pacman Jones has been arrested 10 times, the late Chris Henry visited the pokey six times and star linebacker Vontaze Burfict is a time bomb just waiting to detonate.
The Bengals and Lewis don’t care what you do off the field as long as they think you provide value. Mixon has first-round talent so the Bengals feel pretty good about getting him with the 48th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
The NFL only has themselves to blame. They are the enablers. And it starts with the empty-suited puppet at the top.
So, Mr. Roger Goodell, please spare us the righteousness. Please spare us the lip service. Please spare us the disingenuous concern for the victims of domestic violence. Please stop hiding behind your awareness month of October.
If you want us to buy into your position on this very delicate subject, then send a clear message. Something like:
“If you are guilty of domestic violence you will be banned for (fill in the blank) years and can only be reinstated after completing a league sanctioned program intended to help domestic abusers.”
It’s time to end the hypocrisy!