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Fumble: Roger Goodell and the NFL Dropped the Ball

By Andre Collins

Let me start by saying I love the NFL.  I love football period.  I love everything it stands for; the teamwork, the comradery, the energy, the passion.  I love everything about the game…on the field.  For everything I love about the game on the field, I dislike equally when it comes to the game off of it.

Yesterday, the commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell, suspended Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens for two games for an altercation with his then girlfriend, now wife, Janay Palmer.  During this altercation, video shows Ray Rice pulling his unconscious girlfriend off of an elevator.  The facts we have gathered from the altercation is, Ray Rice and Janay had been drinking, there was a scuffle of some sort on the elevator, and Janay was found to be unconscious when the elevator doors opened.  What happened in between the doors closing and the doors opening is still a mystery, however, there was enough evidence to arrest Ray on an aggravated assault charge.  He was offered a plea bargain and is participating in an anger management program that will void his charge once it is successfully completed.  The legal system is what it is and I am not disputing that, what I am disputing is the two game suspension that was handed down.

Let’s look at this in comparison to other suspensions that have been handed down by Roger Goodell since he has been the commissioner of the NFL.

James Harrison-1 game for excessive force/repeat offender for hitting Colt McCoy
Ndamukong Suh-2 games for stomping on the arm of an opponent of the Green Bay Packers during a Thanksgiving Day game
Terrell Pryor-5 games for selling personal memorabilia while he was at Ohio State in exchange for tattoos
Josh Gordon-Appealing a 1 year suspension for failing multiple drug tests (for recreational drugs)

I realize Ray Rice has been an upstanding citizen for the most part and has not been in trouble with the league prior to this incident, but this issue is bigger than him.  By Roger Goodell imposing this two game suspension, he has set the bar for what domestic violence is worth to the MEN of the NFL.  He has blatantly looked the women who follow the sport faithfully in the eye and told them, “you are a woman, sit down”.  For a league that is about protecting “the shield”, is this the message he really wants to send?  How does this sound, “Dear women, we like your money but we don’t really care about you”?  Does that have a nice ring to it?  The NFL pretends to care about the health of its players and what the game does to their bodies more than it cares what its players does to the bodies of other women and that is not right.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Ray Rice should be kicked out of the league.  I am not saying that his wife was not wrong for hitting him as well.  What I am simply saying is this, the league should have sent a stronger message than a two game suspension.

Despite Ray Rice’s past, wrong place, wrong time, is reality.  If he has to be the one to fall on the sword for the betterment of the league, so be it.  I wouldn’t feel sorry for him because before he entered that elevator, he had a choice.  Just like Roger Goodell had a choice.  But instead of sending a message that this type of violence against women will not be tolerated by the NFL, he simply chose to step over her body, push the button on the elevator and let the elevator doors close.

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