I’ll be the one to say it. The NFL got it right when it comes to the two game suspension for Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice. The outrage by many fans at the “lack of punishment” commissioner Roger Goodell handed down to Rice is completely misdirected. There are a few things to keep in mind here.
First, Rice and his wife (fiancée at the time of the incident) were both charged with simple assault. Say what you may about that, but all we know from that is the two parties involved struck each other. While I don’t condone men hitting women, as a man who has been assaulted by a woman in a domestic situation I know firsthand how difficult it can be to essentially let a woman hit you, whether the blows inflict significant damage or not. None of us know what happened, and while Rice should have exhibited more self-control it is unfair to assume he is some monster based on one incident in which we only know sketchy details about.
Second, Rice is virtually facing little to not punishment from the legal system. The NFL should not have to serve as the United States judicial system. If you want to be angry, be angry at the courts. Be angry at judges and prosecutors. Be angry at a legal penal system that is extremely flawed and rewards people who do wrong while punishing people who try to do right. The judicial system of the United States is in shambles – a problem that goes all the way up to the Supreme Court. There were many who were outraged when Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger was initially suspended six games without being convicted., and many thought it was unfair that then Titans CB Adam “Pacman” Jones was suspended for a year without having actually been convicted of anything. At that time Commissioner Goodell was essentially called a power-hungry bully who was handing out unjust punishment just because he could. So the commissioner is ridiculed when he ignores the legal facts and ridiculed when he takes legal facts into consideration. Some people have to learn to be consistent.
Third, I think you do have to take what Janay Palmer did after the incident into consideration – marry Ray Rice. It’s one thing for a woman to avoid reporting an incident to the police out of fear of retribution against her. It’s quite another for a woman to marry a man a month or so after he allegedly knocks her out. At the end of the day, if Janay Palmer is so happy with the way that Rice treats her that she would marry him, why should any of us waste time being angered or disgusted on her behalf? We should invest that energy in our own lives and families rather than waste that energy on someone who clearly doesn’t want or need your sympathy. As a result of this story, many people are focusing on the “message” being sent by the NFL that domestic violence is not to be taken seriously or that the NFL “doesn’t care” about women. The message I get from this story is that as a society something needs to change when a woman marrying a man who allegedly knocked her out doesn’t raise an eyebrow. We live in a society where most women love “bad boys” and we make excuses when grown women embrace and love the people causing them the most harm, physically and otherwise. The NFL is a business which is in place for the entertainment of its millions of consumers. Anyone who is looking to the NFL to be their moral compass needs to question their own judgment, not Ray Rice’s or Roger Goodell’s.