Friday, September 12, 2014

Michael Vick, Josh Gordon, Ray Rice and Absurdity in the NFL

No one should be surprised that I decided to weigh in on this subject.  I love football, and I've probably read more on the Ray Rice controversy than I'm willing to admit.

Ray Rice was caught on video dragging his then fiance out of an elevator.  She appeared to be unconscious.  There was no doubt there was an altercation and that Mr. Rice had done something that had rendered this woman unable to walk. As the crime took place in New Jersey, that is where he was charged, and was later accepted into a first time offender's program.  He was indicted, there was a police file, and he admitted to hitting her.  The NFL's Roger Goodell handed down a two game suspension. Baltimore's coach, John Harbaugh,  asserts that Ray Rice is a great guy.  He knocked her unconscious.  Unconscious. 

Fast forward a few weeks to the release, by TMZ, of a video from inside the elevator.  A video that showed him cold-cocking Janay Palmer in the face.  Well, now we know the exact act that caused her to be unconscious.  The NFL suspends Ray Rice indefinitely.  The Baltimore Ravens release him.  It was about time.

But did they really need to see the video of him punching her in the face to make the point that a two game suspension didn't quite add up?  Obviously, he had to do something, and it had to be pretty effective, to have knocked her out, to the point where he was forced to drag her out of the elevator like a sack of potatoes. Why was it, that the NFL needed the punch thrown in their face before they chose to actually, you know, taken a real stand against domestic violence of this sort?

Michael Vick was slapped with an indefinite suspension for dog fighting.  He did eventually return to the NFL after serving 19 months in a federal prison.  
Lesson number one from the NFL: Dog-Fighting Trumps Women Beating.

Josh Gordon, of the Cincinnati Bengals was suspended for a year, for a second time marijuana offense.  
Lesson number two from the NFL:  If you are going to hit something, it should be a woman.

After the video surfaced, it didn't take long for Roger to change his mind.  There are a lot of questions as to why, but the simple fact is:
Lesson number three from the NFL: If you are going to hit your girlfriend, make sure it's not on camera.

Am I being unfair?  Possibly.  Michael Vick deserved his suspension.  He broke the law.  Josh Gordon deserved his suspension, he broke a rule that isn't a secret in the NFL.  (It's not clear he broke the law since it's possible his marijuana use may have taken place in Colorado.) Ray Rice?  Should never be holding a football again.  And Roger Goodell ought to be a decent human being and resign.  For more than a few weeks, it was clear that domestic violence didn't stack up against dog-fighting and weed-smoking.  It sent the wrong message.  And frankly, no regular human being needed to see a video to know that.