Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice has been suspended two games by Roger Goodell and the NFL after Rice and his then-fiancee, now wife, Janay Palmer, got into an altercation that ended with her unconscious. The incident took place at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City, N.J. on Feb. 15, 2014. Video just after the altercation was obtained by TMZ Sports.
The two-game suspension has created a stir around the country. Many believe Rice's punishment was too lenient, and that it shows that the NFL does not take women's rights seriously enough. In an interview on ESPN Radio's Mike and Mike in the Morning, the NFL senior vice president of labor policy and government affairs, Adolpho Birch, unintentionally gave that argument credence.
When you look at the entirety of how we address issues of domestic violence, how we address issues related to the integrity of our game, I think it's fair to say that we believe that they're all important, and we treat them all in a way that reflects what we believe to be the values of the league.
If this is the case, then it would be fair to say that the league believes it is more heinous for a player to take an unapproved fertility drug (Robert Mathis, suspended four games), than for a player to beat a woman. If the NFL's suspensions reflect the values of the league, this is a perfectly logical conclusion to arrive at.
The Rice incident comes in an offseason where other NFL players have been charged in domestic violence cases. The latest of these incidents involves Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy.
Panthers Pro Bowl DE Greg Hardy, found guilty July 15 on domestic violence charges, is scheduled to address media at Panthers' camp today.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 26, 2014
Hardy has yet to receive his punishment from the NFL, and it will be interesting to see what it decides to do after the backlash it has received from the Rice suspension.
One of the most upsetting revelations, besides the actual incident itself, to come from all of this has been the large contingent of people who don't take domestic violence seriously.
Rush Limbaugh, host of The Rush Limbaugh Show, the most listened to talk-radio show in the United States, according to Talkers magazine, said of the incident, "Okay, she's his fiancee. He decks her, then they get married. Well, how bad could it have been if she said 'yes' to the proposal?"
This comes after Limbaugh suggested Rice's actions were less egregious than Obamacare, back when the news broke in February.
Stephen A. Smith, of ESPN, also failed to address the issue with the seriousness it deserves, even going so far as to suggest women need to make a concerted effort not to provoke men.
What I've tried to employ to female members of my family, some of whom you've all met and talked to and what have you, is that, again this is what I've done all my life, 'let's make sure we don't do anything to provoke wrong actions.'
Smith's comments have earned him a one-week suspension from his television and radio appearances on ESPN. Some have found irony in comparing Smith's and Rice's suspensions.
Stephen A Smith will miss more "game days" (5) for a dumb take on domestic violence than Ray Rice (2) will for actual domestic violence.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) July 29, 2014
All this talk of suspensions shouldn't take away from the real issue at hand. Domestic violence, or if you want to put it more clearly, violence toward women, cannot be tolerated. The NFL missed a huge opportunity when it failed to give Rice a more lengthy suspension.
It needed to hand down a longer suspension because the attitude in this country in regard to domestic violence is clearly not where it needs to be. According to Cindy Boren of The Washington Post, Rice received an overwhelmingly positive response from the fans when he made his appearance at training camp.
Rice, always a popular player, was cheered repeatedly by fans when he was shown on the big screen at M&T Bank Stadium and was given a standing ovation when he raced a child along the sidelines.
What an appalling display. How can parents take their children out and cheer for a man who is under fire for allegedly beating his wife? What statement are they trying to make?
While parents are failing to teach their kids about the gross and serious nature of domestic violence, the NFL could have made a statement in the reverse. It could have given Rice a formidable suspension and made it clear that domestic violence is unacceptable.
Instead, the NFL chose to give Rice a slap on the wrist with a two-game suspension. The icing on the cake is that Rice's game-check fine will be taken from his 2013 salary and not his current salary.
Ray Rice's additional game check fine docked from 2013 base salary of $1 million, not 2014 base of $4 million. That's $58,823 vs. $235,294— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) July 24, 2014
It's all a mess, and the NFL has received damage to its image in the process. Unfortunately, many fans won't care what Rice did if he's scoring touchdowns in December.