The National Football League has recently faced a lot of controversy regarding its discipline of players who have faced domestic violence charges. The NFL’s mismanagement of numerous cases has led to heavy criticism in past years. This was especially apparent with Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice, two high-profile players who had abused their son and fiancée respectively, and is now again on the front pages with the mismanagement of the New York Giants kicker Josh Brown’s case.
Traditionally when players commit domestic crimes, they are disciplined by both the law and the NFL. However, with these cases, it has been argued that the commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell, failed to do his part and has not disciplined the players in an efficient manner, leading to extreme backlash from fans and social advocates.
In the case of Ray Rice, there was film evidence of his physical abuse towards his fiancee, yet he was not charged or met with any significant consequences. Rice was suspended for only two games and was allowed to return immediately afterwards. Many people, such as NFL team owners, agreed that the penalty was far too lenient and the crime should have received a harsher penalty.
Immediately following Rice’s case, Goodell recognized that this penalty was, in fact, too lenient and he instituted a new rule that would make all first-time domestic abusers suspended for six games.
But just a couple months after Rice’s suspension Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was suspended an entire season without pay for a similar offence, showing just how inconsistent the NFL has been in its treatment of domestic violence crimes.
Following Peterson’s suspension, Goodell was once again heavily criticized for the way in which he handled the situation. Based off the NFL’s own policy towards domestic violence cases, the penalty should have been six games for a first-time offender. Instead, he received a full 14 game suspension without pay, more than twice the dictated amount.
The issue of NFL players committing domestic violence seemed to be on the decline. This trend was broken in October when former New York Giants kicker, Josh Brown, admitted to sexually assaulting his wife multiple times.
However, Brown yet another example of many cases where the NFL has mismanaged player’s penalties for committing violent crimes, especially cases of domestic violence. According to the NFL’s new policy that was introduced directly following Rice’s case. According to the new rule Brown should have been suspended for a minimum of six games due to his first offense. Despite that, Brown did not receive even close to the correct punishment, a six-game suspension. Brown was suspended only one game, and was allowed to play with the team immediately following his suspension.
This caused huge problems for the Giants’ organization Many people have raised the question, what do NFL teams value more? Their players on field performance, or their moral compass and how they treat others.
Additionally, the NFL has shown that they have yet to create and constantly enforce a clear domestic violence policy deal with domestic violence cases l and what the bare minimum of penalties should be.
The NFL failure to establish a clear and coherent domestic violence policy has not only led to unequal enforcement but in a larger sense has created culture that condones domestic violence. •
PHOTO COURTESY OF FLICKR