On Feb. 15, 2014, police arrested Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice and his fiancée Janay Palmer after a fight broke out between the two in an elevator at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City, NJ. Four days later, celebrity news website TMZ released a video of Rice dragging Palmer’s unconscious body out of the elevator. However, the National Football League (NFL) did not take action until July, when it suspended Rice for the first two games of the 2014 season.
After Rice’s suspension was announced, several current and former NFL players took to Twitter to discuss their disappointment with how the NFL handled the situation.
“Am I the only one who believes it should be a lifetime ban for the first time a player commits do-mestic violence? They should be done period,” NFL quarterback Brady Quinn tweeted.
“The NFL should have zero tolerance for domestic violence. There is never a reason for any man to be violent towards any woman,” Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris wrote.
U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal, Tammy Baldwin and Chris Murphy sent a letter to NFL commis-sioner Roger Goodell saying that the two-game suspension was too lenient because it sends the message that the NFL does not take abuse cases seriously.
“Mr. Rice’s suspension reflects a disturbingly lenient, even cavalier attitude towards violence against women…[You should] reconsider and revise Mr. Rice’s suspension to more adequately reflect the seriousness of his offense. We are also writing to the Baltimore Ravens to request that they impose additional discipline under their own authority, but it is imperative that the NFL itself makes clear that this conduct is truly unacceptable,” the Aug. 1 letter read.
According to the NFL’s Performance Enhancing Drug policy (PED), if a player tests positive for banned substances, he is given a four game suspension. However, after Rice physically abused another human being, he was given only a two game suspension. Although it is important for the NFL to main-tain a drug-free environment, promoting good behavior off the field is equally if not more important.
Last month, after TMZ released a second video that contained footage of Rice punching Palmer, the Baltimore Ravens terminated Rice’s contract and Goodell announced Rice’s indefinite suspension from the NFL.
Although the Ravens eventually took the proper action by terminating Rice’s contract, the punish-ment should have come as soon as the first video was released. It almost seems like Rice’s punish-ment was handed down to pacify the public’s anger rather than show that domestic violence is wrong.
Because the NFL reaches fans on a national level, the league needs to think about their actions and the possible ramifications of their decisions. They need to consider that a large portion of their fan base is young; they need to set a good example.
Over the past several years, the NFL has gotten more and more female fans, who now make up 45% of the league’s total fan base. When the news about Rice broke, many female football fans began tweeting about their disappointment regarding the punishment. They felt that the NFL showed that they don’t support women and this will make it harder to recruit other female fans.
Before the Rice incident occurred, the NFL had no set policy about how a player should be punished if he acts in an abusive way toward others. The NFL must change its policies regarding the topic of domestic violence.