NFL tries to cover its tracks

Running back Ray Rice, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens, was suspended by the NFL under their personal conduct policy for two games July 24 due to an incident with Rice and his wife, then-fiancee, that dated back to February of this year. At the time of the suspension, video was released of Rice dragging his unconscious wife out of an elevator in Atlantic City. Recently, video has surfaced of what actually transpired in the elevator, Rice knocking out his wife who then immediately collapsed and hit her head on a hand rail on the way down. After this video leaked, the Ravens released Rice and the NFL suspended him indefinitely.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell handled this situation about as poorly as possible. After the initial suspension of two games, Goodell received blowback from various league personnel and media. He admitted that he made a mistake saying “I didn’t get it right. Simply put, we have to do better and we will,” in a letter sent out to league owners.

Goodell, just a few weeks ago, upped the penalty for domestic abuse in the NFL to a six-game suspension for first-time offenders, and “banishment from the league” for a second offense, with the player allowed to petition to be reinstated after that year. This harsher penalty is a direct result to the initial suspension. Goodell was obviously trying to make some good and cover his tracks for the negative feedback he received. He tried even harder to do so when Rice was indefinitely suspended by the league. Goodell didn’t even follow the rule he just enacted. This would be Rice’s first offense, therefore the suspension should have been changed to six games.

Another mind-boggling side to the story is how the NFL could not get a hold of the video of them in the elevator. They have endless resources to research these sorts of things. I also don’t understand how seeing the video inside the elevator changed Goodell’s mind so much. All of the details of the incident had already been reviewed when the original suspension was handed out, including the aforementioned video of him dragging his wife out of the elevator. In an interview with CBS Evening News, Goodell said that they were not granted chance to see video. He said they asked for it, and it was not given to them. It’s a little hard to believe that the NFL asked for this video and stopped trying once the Atlantic City casino said no. This implies that the NFL felt they were comfortable enough in whatever information they had already gathered to not press any further and ultimately make a ruling. They make not have been able to obtain a copy of that video legally, but it isn’t as if the NFL couldn’t handle Ray Rice possibly suing them for how they got the footage, if it came to that. Regardless, TMZ managed to get it just fine. No one is talking about how they got it, but rather its content. I don’t know whether to chalk that up to incompetence or a sheer lack of caring, but either way, Goodell is to blame.

Ray McDonald of the San Francisco 49ers was arrested Aug. 31 for a domestic abuse incident at his home that also involved his finacee. She reportedly showed bruising to the police. McDonald’s court date is set for Sept. 15. He played in the first regular season game for the 49ers, and will probably play in the second one as it is before his court date. As these things tend to drag on, McDonald may still be able to play a majority of the season without an actual ruling. We will see whether Goodell sticks to his guns on this one and actually deals out a six-game suspension to McDonald at some point.

We can all agree that what Ray Rice and Ray McDonald did were terrible, and should definitely be punished, and perhaps after this mishap, future situations will be resolved with more ease, but this catastrophe could end with Goodell losing his job and giving himself lifetime banishment. I, and plenty others, would most certainly not give any blow back to the league if that happened.