The NFL's epic mishandling of the Ray Rice situation

Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was an All-Pro, Super Bowl champion. The New Rochelle, New York native and Rutgers University graduate was, by all accounts, a model citizen who gave back. Rice proved everyone wrong last February. Rice and his fiancée Janay Rice (née Palmer) were arrested and charged with assault in an Atlantic City casino on Feb. 15. That same month, TMZ released a video of Rice dragging an unconscious Palmer out of an elevator. Despite this, charges against Rice were dropped after he agreed to undergo counseling. National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell levied a measly two-game suspension on Rice.

As ridiculous as this is, the NFL suspended Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon for a full season (16 games) for testing positive for marijuana.

It wasn’t until this week that Rice was suspended indefinitely by the NFL and cut by the Baltimore Ravens. Why? Because TMZ released a new video of Rice punching Palmer twice, spitting in her face and knocking her unconscious. This video, however, matched the court reports about what transpired. It is not new information.

According to a Baltimore Sun interview, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome was asked if Rice’s story about what happened that February night was consistent with the video. “What we saw on the video is what Ray said. Ray didn’t lie to me,” Newsome said. Now, there are rumors that Newsome––one of the top GMs in the NFL––could lose his job.

Moreover, the video was reportedly sent to the NFL by law enforcement, but the league didn’t take any action against him until it went public. It is obvious that the two-game suspension was a slap on the wrist and the indefinite suspension was only put into place to save face.

This should have been done in the first place; the fact that it was not put into place to begin with speaks volumes about our society’s skewed ideas of what does and does not deserve retribution.

The NFL has revised its domestic violence and sexual assault policy to a six game suspension for the first offense and a lifetime ban for the second offense. This is not enough, especially considering the fact that NFL enjoys nonprofit status, meaning that the NFL and their repugnant leniency towards abusers is subsidized by taxpayers.

Sports media have also played a role in this travesty. Fox Sports personality Katie Nolan, like many women in sports media, is a facilitator. She transitions to commercials and lets her male peers provide analysis. On her YouTube channel, Nolan issued a challenge to the entire industry.

“The NFL will never respect women and their opinions as long as the media it answers to doesn’t,” she said.