By: Katie Albertino – Freshman, Communication
After the recent suspensions of NFL players Josh Gordon, Wes Welker and Ray Rice generated a major backlash, the NFL is shaping up and changing its drug and domestic violence policies.
This decision to re-examine the current policies is great, but why did it take an uproar to initiate the adjustments?
Gordon of the Cleveland Browns and Welker of the Denver Broncos were initially suspended for a full year and for four games, respectively, as a result of drug use. Baltimore Ravens’ running back Ray Rice initially received a two game suspension after knocking his wife unconscious.
It almost seems like NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is trying to save face (and money), rather than fix the inconsistencies of the system and set standards for his organization.
Goodell has apologized for his actions saying he “didn’t get it right” and a new domestic violence policy was sent to all NFL owners and instructed to be passed down through their team organizations.
The new policy stated that first-time offenders would receive a six-game suspension and a second offense would result in an indefinite suspension.
Let’s take a timeout, step back and look at this playbook. In the last 14 years, according to USA Today, there have been more than 80 domestic violence arrests involving NFL players (this doesn’t include assault, battery or disorderly conduct). 41 of these domestic violence cases have come during Goodell’s time as commissioner.
Now, with the elevator footage of the altercation between Rice and his then-fiancée released, Goodell’s initial two-game ruling barely seems like a smack on the wrist.
London Fletcher, former linebacker, tweeted, “@nflcommish to say you got that wrong is an understatement. Very disappointed in you. Wow…unbelievable.”
Fletcher was one of the many past and present NFL players that have spoken up concerning Goodell’s suspension decisions.
Despite the NFL’s claim that they didn’t see the video, The Associated Press reported a law enforcement officer sent and received confirmation from an NFL execuive of the video’s arrival in April.
So, Mr. Goodell, you’re telling me that you, or someone in your offices, watched the same video that we have all seen and instead of feeling sick or horrified, you thought, “Hmm, two games should teach him?” And then, you turned around and saw Gordon barely failing a drug test (one nanogram above the league’s threshold ) and thought, “Oohh man, we can’t stand for this. Full year suspension!”
And what makes this situation even worse is it seems that Mr. Goodell didn’t see anything wrong until a multitude of negative feedback exploded through all forms of media. Since the release of the elevator video, Rice has been cut from the Ravens and indefinitely suspended by Goodell. But why did it take this long? He beat her unconscious. That alone should be enough to suspend Rice for at least half the season. These changes in policies and new punishments are correcting a problem that should have already been fixed.
The NFL is trying to clean the mess of dirt that’s been swept under the rug for years. But they’re only cleaning now because people have pointed out the clutter. We’re still seeing positive results (policies are being changed, Rice was suspended indefinitely) and it smooths the problem out, but it doesn’t alter the past actions. It seems like Mr. Goodell is only changing the policies because people saw the inconsistency and injustice in his rulings. Goodell didn’t release the new domestic violence policy to the NFL owners until after Josh Gordon’s suspension was announced. People had to point out the absurdity of Rice’s suspension compared to Gordon’s before a new policy was issued.
Sure, maybe it’s just a coincidence that the policy was issued after Gordon’s suspension, and maybe it’s a coincidence that the drug policy is being re-evaluated after the backlash these past few weeks. Maybe the NFL already had this in the works, and it’s just being released to the public now. Or maybe Goodell saw that most of the NFL’s fan base (which is 47 percent female) doesn’t agree with domestic violence or inconsistent suspensions, which could result in a decline of ticket and merchandise purchases, diminishing his lucrative empire.
The NFL Players Association passed a new drug policy which could result in Welker’s immediate reinstatement and a lesser suspension for Gordon and other players. Instead of waiting for the play call, Goodell and the NFL should have done a no-huddle decision and improved their organization.
Hopefully, these new policies will help alleviate the problems and set a higher standard for the NFL and the general public.