Once again, NFL, let’s be clear.
Marijuana use cost Josh Gordon a full season. Anything from Adderall to Molly nabbed Wes Welker, and countless others in years past, four games. And, before the latest change in policy, domestic violence knew no specific penalty.
Well, now we know exactly what Ray Rice’s two-game suspension looks like.
In the early morning hours after the first Sunday of the season, TMZ Sports released the video of the Baltimore Ravens running back’s attack of now-wife Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City elevator on Feb. 15 and it’s about as bad as you might have imagined.
Full TMZ video (warning: graphic content)
This isn’t an incident. This is an indictment of all the different ways NFL commissioner Roger Goodell got this punishment wrong.
Goodell has since admitted in a letter to owners he missed on the penalty, but it’s truly head-scratching when it comes to deciphering how after watching the above video. How could Goodell see this footage and not act with outrage? How could his instinctual reaction as a husband and father of twin daughters not kick in?
For the skeptics, the “innocent until proven guilty” crowd who claim there’s no way to know what provokes such horrendous displays or whether they unfolded as described, you have your answer in this case. While the potential for verbal abuse prior to the attack remains a mystery, there’s no uncertainty when eyeing the physical.
Rice struck first, avoided an approach, and completed the knockout by sending Palmer’s head into the elevator hand rail with staggering force. From there, the soon-to-return back looked like someone trying to conceal evidence as he dragged his then-fiance’s limp body out of the elevator doors.
If in fact there is any way for Goodell to adjust this penalty to the new six-game standard – one that, frankly, still would not be enough – he must. Check that, as the commissioner, he has no choice, regardless of the difficult road he might face. There’s no room for another round of indecision. And, for Rice, there’s no reasonable way he can appeal.
No matter one’s walk of life, domestic violence cannot be tolerated. It looks worse when athletes – role models for so many young kids – are given little more than a slap on the wrist, all the while backed by their organizations and celebrated as great guys who made a mistake.
If you had mixed feelings on Rice before, watch the video. But brace yourself. Something his wife never had the chance to do.
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