This post was from 2014 after the infamous Ray Rice video was released.
I’m angry at the NFL’s current domestic violence situation.
I’m angry it took a tidal wave of public backlash for the league to take any significant action – and that the action they took was pathetic.
I’m angry that the NFL somehow had it in their policy that punching a woman off-camera was grounds for a two game suspension.
But suddenly doing it on-camera is worth an indefinite one?
But if it happens to someone else its worth six games?
Their panicky, haphazard slew of new policies speak volumes to the fact that this is a topic they’ve never seriously considered and with which they have no idea what they’re doing.
I’m angry that this incompetence with domestic violence isn’t from lack of opportunity.
That this isn’t the first time that domestic violence by a player has received nothing more than a slap on the wrist. Or that it’s not the second. Or the twentieth. Why didn’t this backlash happen earlier?
Did people not care when Terrell Suggs poured bleach on his girlfriend and son? Yes, bleach. How do you think that would have looked on tape? No suspension.
What about when he dragged her alongside moving car a few years later? No suspension.
How about when All-Pro linebacker James Harrison admitted he broke a door down and slapped his girlfriend during an argument? No suspension.
Or when Randy Starks threw his fiancé into a wall? One exhibition game.
Frosty Rucker and his two separate domestic violence issues? One game reduced by Commissioner Goodell to zero.
(Feel free to check out the NFL Arrest Database for yourself)
I’m angry that despite all this, the Carolina Panthers still haven’t cut Greg Hardy who was convicted of assaulting his girlfriend in a horrifying manner.
I’m angry too that people are making light of the situation. That a jackass on Fox News suggested Janay Rice ‘take the stairs’. That when Ray Rice ran onto the field for his first preseason games, Baltimore fans cheered him.
It infuriates me that Roger Goodell still has his job. Regardless of whether he saw the second Ray Rice tape or not, Goodell now has ‘domestic violence enabler’ permanently stamped on his forehead and will forever be a detriment to the league’s credibility.
And he somehow managed to make things worse by hiring Robert Mueller, a friend of the NFL, to carry out the ‘independent investigation’ of what happened with the Rice tapes.
But do you know what’s worse? What’s worse than the anger I have towards NFL players who hit women? Worse than the anger I have towards greedy executives who scramble to cover their asses at the expense of morality?
Embarrassment at myself and at my fellow fans.
Embarrassment that when I first heard about the Ray Rice video my first thought was, “I wonder how long it’ll be until we can get him back on the field?”
Kicking him off the team wasn’t even a consideration.
That was unthinkable.
He was our star running back.
Not for one second did I view it through the lens of how my parents taught me think of a man hitting a woman.
I didn’t think about the situation like he was just some normal person.
Why not? Because in my mind, he wasn’t normal.
He was a professional athlete and they don’t get in trouble like the rest of us. Because the normal rules don’t apply them.
Because if a professional athlete hits a woman it’s forgivable if they keep producing on the field.
Not like if one of my friends hit a woman. That would be unforgivable. I wouldn’t let that guy in my life ever again.
And yet as cruel and unjust as that sounds – it’s exactly the stance we’ve taken on this issue for the twenty years I’ve been a sport fan and probably the twenty before that.
We allow athletes to get away with almost anything just because they provide us entertainment and generate lots of money.
What do you think would happen to a teacher who beat his girlfriend? How about an NFL stadium popcorn vendor who dragged his girlfriend outside of a moving car during a fight?
Not only would these people be in jail, they would more likely than not lose their jobs and forever be haunted by their horrific action.
But we put athletes on a pedestal and sacrifice our dignity when they commit an atrocity like any of the ones mentioned above and we allow it to be swept under the rug like nothing happened just because we want to see them suit up next week.
Terrell Suggs gets cheered louder than any Raven every single time he steps on that field. We conveniently forget his monstrous past because he’s a hell of a pass-rusher.
It’s an absolute abomination and it has to stop with me. And you. All of us together.
No longer should we be ok with any of our teams having their reputation degraded and our support insulted but some pompous idiot who thinks he’s above behaving as any normal, decent human should.
No longer should we sit quietly when we know our dignity as supporters is being put at risk.
So from now on I ask that each fan take a more critical look at the character of the team they support and ask yourself if you’re ok with how they represent you and your city. If not, be angry about it. Make your voice heard.
My team has the most work to do out of all of them. I can only hope that the Ravens choose to wipe the slate clean and move forward with integrity. If not, it won’t be long until they lose this angry fan for good.