Ray Rice controversy reflects poor judgment by NFL

When Ray Rice assaulted his then-fiancée Janay Palmer, the NFL had an opportunity to punish him appropriately.

The NFL failed.

Commissioner Roger Goodell has made a mockery of disciplining players by giving Rice a two game slap on the wrist. The league only backtracked on its gutless excuse for punishment once TMZ released video evidence of the violent assault.

“The NFL has basically showed the public that they cannot be trusted and that there is a lot of work to be done with their judicial policies,” said junior Marcus Williams, defensive end on the football team.

The league could have easily made an example out of Rice; they could have originally suspended him for the full season and sent a clear message that they will not tolerate this kind of behavior. Instead, they sent a message that domestic abuse is no big deal unless there is graphic footage of it for everyone to see.

Instead, they emboldened domestic abusers everywhere by meekly adjudicating this incident.

Rice turned into a local hero and became the face of his team after helping the Ravens win Super Bowl XLVII. Last year, his jersey was ranked 28th in overall sales.

If the NFL followed through with the original two-game suspension of Rice, the running back could have generated heaps of money for the league.

Now that video has surfaced of Rice striking Palmer with an uppercut, the NFL had no other choice than to suspend Rice indefinitely.

“The Ravens didn’t really have a choice, but they did the right thing when they cut Ray Rice on Monday,” said Baltimore Ravens columnist John Eisenberg.

Had the Ravens organization not taken the step that the NFL would not — i.e., by cutting ties with Rice — the media and financial backlash would have far surpassed the onslaught the league now faces.

The NFL finally chose the right path but not for the right reasons.

“I suppose the NFL and the Baltimore Ravens got it right the second time,” said Williams. “The issue is that there should not have been a second time.”

The NFL will not make the right choice unless it is in their financial interests. 

The league wants to keep its place as a billion-dollar corporation. Suspending Rice for the season would have directly affected the NFL’s revenue stream, so it is no surprise that the league was hesitant to give him meaningful punishment.

“(Roger Goodell) has stated that he wants to reach $25 billion in annual revenues for the league by the year 2027,” said Monte Burke of forbes.com.

“It’s an incredibly ambitious goal, especially for a league that many in the media believe is in decline.”

The league will continue to press forward in its primary goal to increase revenue.

We should be appalled, but not surprised, that the league puts finances ahead of properly punishing its players.

“By only suspending Rice for two games at first, the NFL basically gave him a slap across the wrist and sent the message that domestic violence isn’t that big of a deal,” said Julie Winterich, chair of the women’s, gender & sexuality studies program and associate professor of sociology and anthropology.

The NFL has turned disciplining players into an absolute joke.

As consumers of the NFL’s product, we need to make sure that this never happens again.

We must demand the immediate resignation of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.