Many in the sporting world were left shocked and outraged after a horrific video came out this week of Ray Rice apparently knocking his girlfriend unconscious, and subsequently getting arrested for assault. Still, most people felt that it would only be a short time before the Baltimore Ravens and their organization would come to the backing off the running back, and John Harbaugh fulfilled this thought process today.
Well, that backing came through today, as after being asked about whether or not the running back has done anything to warrant a suspension, Harbaugh said, “Not that I’m aware of. I haven’t seen anything that would remotely make me think that.” The coach would go on to further comment about the situation,”There are a lot of facts and a process that has to be worked through in anything like this. There are a lot of question marks. But Ray’s character, you guys know his character. So you start with that.”
To even remotely condone what the recently released video of Rice has shown the world is not only a travesty, but it makes the entire football world look bad. It expands on the fact that over the last 10 to 15 years, the NFL has become known as one that will condone anything that players do off the field, with guys such as Ray Lewis, Adam “Pacman” Jones and Michael Vick having become poster-boys for the fact that on-field ability triumphs actions off of it.
As a whole, the NFL has effectively taken the stance of “don’t ask, don’t tell” when it comes to off the field indiscretions, and it seems that players that come into the league have taken note. After all, if 57 players were arrested in 2013 alone and neither Roger Goodell or individual teams have taken a firm stance through suspensions or truly detrimental fines, why should Rice or anyone else stop acting poorly off the field?
What is worst about Harbaugh not taking any sort of initiative in denouncing the video of Rice knocking out his girlfriend is the impact it could have on youth fans who look up to Ravens players. Every week there are millions of children who will tune into Ravens games and they will certainly be aware of the actions that Rice was caught on tape doing. The obvious correlation to be made between the two things is that what Rice did is okay because after all, he is a professional football player. This inherently sets up a culture of acceptance of domestic violence and other poor decisions in the youth culture, and sets the NFL up as the league that no parents want their children to have any part of.
In the end, it should be unacceptable that the NFL openly has players questioning whether Michael Sam will be accepted in a locker room because he is gay, but none making a peep about Rice after knocking out his girlfriend. The NFL should be condemned by fans, the media and even its own employees alike for allowing this to be tolerated, and should be called on to take the necessary actions that will bring the league out of the dark age of tolerating poor decisions.