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Mon, July 28, 2014

NFL's Explanation of Rice Penalty Fails Miserably

I think the majority of people in this country last week were taken aback when Roger Goodell and the NFL issued what amounted to a slap on the wrist for Ravens running back Ray Rice. You’ll recall Rice is the man caught on video literally dragging his unconscious fiancé from an Atlantic City elevator in February of this year after a bout of domestic violence. The story and video itself are enough to make most of us cringe but the NFL’s subsequent two-game suspension of the star was an absolute joke and the public outcry was loud and boisterous. That all being said, I’m not sure the NFL has ever looked as foolish as they did today upon sending NFL senior vice president of labor policy Adolpho Birch to the ESPN airwaves today in an effort to justify the suspension. Where to begin with this ridiculousness …

First of all, why are we hearing from Adolpho Birch and not Roger Goodell on this matter? It’s clear that since he took office in 2006, Goodell has been the face of this league and has final say on all disciplinary matters. His failure to address the matter personally illustrates a complete lack of respect for the public outrage and the issue at hand. Add Goodell’s absence to the absurd explanation provided by Birch and you have, for the first time in recent memory, an actual black eye for all-powerful National Football League.

“So in terms of sending a message about what the league stands for, we’ve done that,” said Birch.

Oh really? In Birch’s eye, it appears that even the smallest of penalties for the most severe of crimes is enough to send a message. Look, I realize it’s an extreme example but you wouldn’t sentence someone convicted of murder to two weeks in the state penitentiary and you can’t issue a two game suspension to someone involved in domestic violence – it just doesn’t fit.

Birch continued, “It is multiple games and hundreds of thousands of dollars. I think that’s fair to say that doesn’t reflect that you condone the behavior. I think we can put that to rest.”

No, we can’t put it to rest. Until an appropriate punishment is handed down, the public should continue to look upon the NFL as a league that just doesn’t care. Sure, they’ll deck the halls in pink for October’s breast cancer awareness month but that ultimately amounts to another opportunity to line their pockets with alternative merchandise sales. The bottom line is this, when repeat drug offenders in the NFL receive a four-game suspension while “targeting” on the field of play can earn you one, a two-game suspension for someone guilty of domestic violence is downright wrong. I’m not sure I have an answer for what an appropriate penalty would be but I will suggest it should more than either of these offenses. And the fact the NFL can’t see that and would go so far as to defend the punishment is disheartening to say the least. Until we receive more information to justify the NFL’s position, I will continue to be appalled by what has transpired in this case. It’s an absolute joke.

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