Josh Gordon’s 16-game suspension was upheld Wednesday by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell only a month after deciding two-games would suffice for Ray Rice. He only knocked his fiancé unconscious and dragged her body from the casino elevator almost as delicately as a leopard drags its prey up a tree. For a league facing serious questions about domestic violence, this move sends a message to women: You mean less to us than a failed urine test.
Yes, Gordon’s suspension is a result of multiple infractions. Yes, Rice’s punishment was lenient in part due to his previously clean record. But you tell me, which is more harmful: marijuana use or the physical assault of the woman Rice had planned to spend the rest of his life with? In sickness and in health? For better or for worse? How about for right jab, left hook?
Goodell’s league is amidst a serious battle to keep kids playing his sport. You know all those sappy “This is why we left football” commercials featuring soft, dramatic music and eyes welling up with tears? The campaign’s sole purpose is to draw attention from the potentially sport-crushing concussion issue. That’s just public relations 101. You want to see irony? Marijuana can be used for the treatment of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disease caused by concussions.
As a result of the firestorm that followed Rice’s suspension, Goodell set the standard suspension for first-time domestic violence incidents at four-to-six games – only a quarter of the length of Gordon’s ban. Rice could knock his now-wife out again and still face the exact same punishment suspension just levied upon Gordon.
This issue extends beyond image. It pulls emotional strings far more important than wins, losses and fantasy points. This is about telling a portion of the fanbase they don’t matter. Gordon is extremely irresponsible for having repeatedly broken the rules and needs professional help. You know who else probably needs professional help? Janay Palmer, wife of Ray Rice. She’ll need counseling as she learns to trust her husband again. Now, with the latest message sent by its commissioner, women everywhere will need to learn to trust the NFL.
Anthony F. Irwin is an NBA, NFL, MLB and NCAA Football contributor for Rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. Send him an email at Anthony.F.Irwin@gmail.com.