NFL obligated to send stronger message
The NFL is huge. The Buffalo Bills just sold for $1.4 billion dollars despite that it hasn’t been to the playoffs in 15 years and isn’t even in the top fifty markets in the United States.
But the NFL is not as untouchable as the league would like you to believe.
This past February, former Ravens player Ray Rice beat his then-fiancée in an elevator in Atlantic City. We know this from the TMZ video released shortly after the incident of him dragging her, unconscious, out of the elevator. Even with such damning evidence, he passed it off as self-defense. It must be said that he is a 200-pound professional athlete apparently defending himself against a much smaller female.
He and his then-fiancée were both charged with simple assault. When an Atlantic County grand jury saw the tape of the two inside of the elevator, they dropped the charges against his then-fiancée and upgraded his charge to aggravated assault. Rice was suspended for two games.
The NFL, apparently worried about its image as well as that of one of the league’s marquee football players, paid no heed to this upgraded charge. They acted surprised when exactly what happened in the police report appeared on video inside the elevator this past week, courtesy of TMZ.
Commissioner Roger Goodell has had his greatest legal defense recently, stating that no one in the NFL saw the video of what happened inside the elevator until TMZ posted it this past Monday. This video clearly shows Rice striking his girlfriend not once, but twice, as she falls hits her head against the rail, before he drags her unconscious body out.
As I said before, the NFL is one of the powerful entities in America, and the commissioner failed by suspending Rice for only two games. The Ravens have since terminated Rice’s contract with the team, and he was suspended indefinitely from the league, but why did it take video evidence for that to happen?
The beating was described in the police report exactly as it appeared on film. Commissioner Goodell is sending the message that a woman’s own report of domestic abuse means nothing. But if it’s on tape, it counts.
According to Deadspin.com’s sister site Sidespin, there have been 56 instances of domestic abuse since Roger Goodell took his position as commissioner in 2006, with players only being suspended for a combined 13 games and only 10 players released from their teams.
Football is the No.1 sport in America, and it will continue to be. By allowing Goodell to remain commissioner, we are allowing domestic abuse to continue to be accepted, whether it is in an elevator in Atlantic City or anywhere else in this country.
Justin Lesko is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in political science and journalism and media studies. He is editor-in-chief of the Medium.
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