Since punching his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, in the elevator, who now goes by Janay Rice since marrying Ray Rice. We have seen the former Baltimore Raven running back receive a lot of flack and scrutiny for his actions toward his Mrs. Rice and rightfully so. However in the last week, I think it’s safe to say that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has received even more heat and scrutiny from fans, when it comes to how he handled the case of Ray Rice and the domestic violence rules of the NFL as a whole.
Now for those who haven’t been keeping up with story, Rice was originally suspended for the first two games of the season for the incident. However, once TMZ published video showing the NFL star knocking out his future wife with a punch back in February, the NFL quickly changed their “punishment tactics,” as they made the choice to suspend Rice from the NFL indefinitely, while the Ravens released him from his contract.
However, what has fans even more upset is the fact the Associated Press reported on Wednesday that a law enforcement source told them he sent the elevator tape to an NFL executive, back in April. Then to make matters worse, that same law enforcement source also told the Associated Press that he had heard a voice-mail from the league office confirming it was received.
That being said, many fans are questioning, who in the NFL office first saw that video. Since a lot of people believe that “someone” in the NFL office who saw the video is Goodell, more people have become outraged and fed up with Goodell.
Why are so many people outraged with Goodell, you ask?
Well for one, not many people agreed with the Goodell’s original decision to suspend Rice for two games. for the main fact, that many people felt that was too weak of punishment for domestic violence, regardless of the fact that it was Rice’s first offense and that he wasn’t criminally charged.
However, the outraged of Goodell is even bigger now because now a good amount of people believe that Goodell not only saw the tape but that he actually saw the tape back in April when the law enforcement allegedly sent the elevator tape to the NFL office. Which means that if Goodell did see the tape of the incident back in April when the tape was allegedly sent, that means Goodell choose to ignore the blatant evidence of a vulgar situation and he still made the decision in July to only suspended Rice for the first two games of the 2014 season, after having “allegedly” seen the tape and having over a month to think about a punishment.
Then to add fuel to the fire, Goodell, would later changed his “punishment tactics,” as he changed Rice’s two game suspension to an indefinite suspension when the video was leaked by TMZ, saying that to his “knowledge” nobody at the NFL including him had seen it, before it was leaked.
Whether you believe Goodell saw the tape, is really not the issue. The issue is how he and the rest of the NFL, handled the situation of Rice from the beginning. Starting with the fact that they only suspended him for two games and ending with the fact that they later changed his two game suspension to an indefinite suspension after the tape of the incident was leaked, while also saying that they had no knowledge that the tape existed.
While many football fans and people in general have made their opinions clear about the Rice and Goodell controversy whether it be on social media or by simple word of mouth. Many NFL players and coaches haven’t expressed their thoughts in the same way. However, as media, we can’t help but to ask players and coaches and in my case, I asked the coaches and players of my hometown team, the Detroit Lions.
Now, earlier this week, Lions head coach Jim Caldwell, who is also a former Ravens offensive coordinator that coached Rice for two years, said that he has a zero-tolerance domestic abuse policy with the Lions organization.
“Our policy has always been the same and always will be the same in that regard,” Caldwell said. “We do have a zero-tolerance policy, and one of the things we want to make certain of is that we do things the right way. That’s key to us. How we act on and off the field, how we represent this organization, how we represent the Ford family, how we represent the National Football League. We don’t believe there’s any place for domestic violence.”
Nevertheless, when asked about the Rice/Goodell controversy again on Thursday, Caldwell, declined to speak further about the situation, implying that he spoke about it enough and wanted to move on.
While it was clear that Caldwell didn’t have much to say about it during Thursday’s media presser. Some of his Lion players were a little more willing to speak their mind about the situation, while others kept quiet and decided to stay neutral or not say anything at all.
One of the first players to comment on Thursday, was Lions safety Glover Quinn, who is actually the Lions’ player rep with the league. While speaking to Quinn, he not only addressed quite a few issues concerning Goodell and Rice, but he also included an answer about whether Goodell should remain as the commissioner in the NFL.
That’s not my decision.” Quin said when asked if Goodell should remain as NFL commissioner. “I’m a player, so first I’m going to play. And second, I’m a player rep, so I’m going to represent the players. And if we happen to come to a decision on what happens with Roger Goodell, I’m pretty sure we’ll have some things that we’ll talk about as a union.”
“Things happen and you wonder what really happened or what really didn’t happen, and this and that,” Quin continued. “But our main focus is really trying to win football games. Luckily, we’re not the Baltimore Ravens, so we don’t have to deal with all that comes along with it, but as you can see, we still have to deal with it some.
Even though I see where Quinn is coming from and even agree with most of his statement. For me the main two statements that stuck out from Thursday, were the statements of Lion wide receiver Kevin Ogletree and safety James Ihedigbo.
Now, when it comes to Ogletree, I didn’t get a chance to speak with him directly but according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press who spoke with Olgetree on Thursday. Ogletree said he thinks Goodell should get “a couple of game suspension” for the way he handled the Rice investigation. While it’s not surprising to hear Ogletree express his thoughts on the situation seeing that he has always been honest and to the point. It doesn’t change the fact that his statement is definitely one of the more bolder statements that I have heard from any current NFL player in terms of speaking about Goodell and the NFL as a whole.
Nonetheless, I still have to say the particular statement that stood out for me more than Ogletree’s is the statement of Ihedigbo, who says the NFL’s punishment policy has been flawed long before the Rice’s situation.
“My opinion on the punishment policy, it was kind of flawed before this whole incident,” he said. “The judge and jury is based on one person or a group of individuals. That’s a whole different story. On this, he did the best he could at the time with what he had.”
I have to agree with Ihedigbo, when he says that the NFL’s punishment policy has always been flawed, because to be honest he is completely right. If you go back and look at the various punishments that the NFL has put out over the last five to ten years, you will see a huge trail of inconsistencies in the NFL’s punishments. Whether it be the year-long suspension of Cleveland Brown receiver Josh Gordon, who was originally suspended for failing an off-season drug test for marijuana but now could only be suspended for eight game or Carolina Panther defensive end Greg Hardy who was recently convicted of assaulting a woman but is still somehow playing and ready to suit up against the Lions this Sunday.
Like Ihedigbo said, there have always been flaws in the NFL’s punishment policy long before the Rice situation. Until the NFL comes up with the right type of policy or policies and consistently learn how to enforce that policy or those policies. I think the NFL will continuously see these type of issues arise, whether it be similar to the Rice situation or another situation all together.
Written by LBeasley (Lauren Beasley), Sports Editor of Radio One Detroit
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