Ray Rice held a press conference today to discuss his recent arrest for assault-domestic violence stemming from a February 15 casino altercation with his fiance. [If you are interested in quotes, the Ravens awkwardly live-tweeted the entire event.] While no suspension has been announced by the Commissioner’s Office yet, many are speculating a possible 1-4 game suspension for the star running back.
Now, remember when news surfaced that Cleveland Browns‘ receiver Josh Gordon tested positive for marijuana in an NFL-sanctioned drug test? As everyone knows by now, the rumor is that Gordon will miss the entire 2014 season — considerably more than Rice.
The NFL has taken a stand in recent years to “clean up” the league — viciously punishing players for breaking the law and/or failing league drug tests. And for the most part, they have been successful — with the stark exception of the abuse of women. And the league’s handling of these two events (should Rice receive anything less than Gordon’s suspension) continues to show the NFL’s willingness to look the other way in the treatment of women by its players. One man misses a handful of games for knocking his soon-to-be wife unconscious while another misses the entire season for smoking marijuana? Pathetic.
We all have different opinions regarding marijuana, but I like to think our views on the abuse of women coincide. It’s wrong, plain and simple.
This whole situation shines even more light on the NFL’s continued issue regarding violence against women. Blame the testosterone, the egos, locker room mindset or whatever you’d like, but the treatment of women by NFL players has been a problem for years. Take a look a what Justin Peters of Slate.com wrote in late 2012:
“[…]I looked at a San Diego Union-Tribune database of NFL arrest records and searched for incidents of domestic violence or sexual assault. I found that 21 of 32 NFL teams, at one point this year, had employed a player with a domestic violence or sexual assault charge on his record.”
In the NFL’s culture as whole, this type of treatment is accepted. Sure, teams don’t go around publicly condoning it, but they still continue to employ these players. The Ray Rice situation is further proof of this — he receives a small punishment, then will continue to play football like nothing happened. This isn’t about second chances or “seeing the light.” There is a time and place for that. This is about Roger Goodell finally taking a stand and changing an abusive culture. His league spends an entire month rightfully supporting breast cancer yet completely ignores its own abuse against women. It is hypocrisy at its finest.
This mindset isn’t just created in the NFL. It stems throughout high schools and colleges around the nation. To some, women are simply usable items to achieve instant gratification. They are completely devalued. This mindset has been brutally evident in recent years from stories such as Darren Sharper to Jovan Belcher. Take a look at the Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin scandal, for example. Their text messages show the all too common mindset that is plaguing the league. They referred to women in discussions about “hooker parties”, “strippers who go the extra mile” and “bi***es”. Incognito (the recipient of numerous sexual assault accusations) even stated “I was doing work last night. I got those girls hammered.” It’s despicable and the league has allowed it to happen for years by failing to take a stand. Based off of their punishments alone, the league seems more concerned with late hits on a quarterback than players’ abuse of women.
It’s time to put an end to this once and for all. Goodell should do what is right and stop this destructive culture — beginning with the immediate suspension of Ray Rice. These players are role models for millions of kids around the world and should be held to such standards.
The ball is in your court now, Mr. Goodell.