When Roger Goodell became Commissioner of the NFL in 2006 the NFL had an image problem, one he worked quickly to change with his implementing the NFL Personal Conduct Policy. From Pacman Jones to Chris Henry, to Tank Johnson, all felt the wrath as a result of their excess and rightfully so. But over the last few years, his and the NFL’s enforcement of the rules makes one wonder whether the punishment equals the crime.

Case in point–

Ray Rice was suspended for two games after video of him coming out of an elevator with his unconscious girlfriend make it onto the internet. He allegedly punched her in the face before the doors opened, and the video looks like he was mugging her. Now the girlfriend, now his wife, did not press charges and he did escape jail time by being accepted into an intervention program, but the image of a star of the NFL looking like he’s mugging a women being blasted onto TMZ hurts the NFL almost as much as it does Rice.

Josh Gordon is facing a season long suspension for his second violation of the league’s Substance Abuse Policy and a recent DUI, while Daryl Washington, Justin Blackmon, and LeVon Brazill were all suspended for at least a season for their second violations of the policy and DUI, with all being called “dumb,” which they are; to tempt fate with an NFL career in the first place.

5And Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay was arrested for a DUI and drug possession in March. There has been no suspension announced as of yet, merely that he needs help and is getting the help he needs, with many including Goodell wishing Irsay the best in recovery from his addiction.

Would Goodell ever think to say anything like that to Gordon or Washington? But at least we’ve established the apparent system of punishment in the NFL– punch one’s girlfriend in the face- two game suspension, and being married to the girl helps; while recreational drug use can get one suspended for the season, unless you’re an owner and then it’s a pass.

The NFL has given lesser sentences to first time offenders of domestic violence the repeat drug offenders in the past, but when is the NFL going to show some common sense in its enforcement of these rules for the credibility of not just the rules themselves, but the NFL, with very basic questions; What is worse for the NFL– One of their players being exposed in the media with a public video abusing his girlfriend or recreational drug use; not steroids, HGH, or even Adderall, recreational drug use?

Goodell has become an expert at saying he wants to go one way, then doing something totally different; this is the guy who suspends players left and right for vicious hits, claiming it’s about player safety, then he talks about expanding the regular season to 18 games, or increasing the playoff field from 12 to 14 teams, or putting a team in London. He doesn’t care about player conditioning, safety, or well-being, he only cares about making as much money as possible, almost continuing to try to find ways to mess with the perfect system that already exists.

44Since the lockout, the NFL has returned to become America’s new past time, with record crowds and record TV numbers every year. Everybody loved the Sunday package and Monday Night Football, with occasional Saturday games in December, but that wasn’t good enough, they added a Thursday night game, in spite of the majority of the teams being against having the shortened week as a result. Now we’re set to have two Thursday night games the majority of the season, with games on the NFL Network and NBC. The games have never been the quality of the Sunday games, and unless that changes, it will continue to be as painful to watch as it is for the players.

But it may very well come back to the almighty dollar for the NFL, in the Rice case with the female fan-base growing every year and the NFL and Goodell needing that to continue. This could be a slippery-slope that stands to alienate the fan-base and feminist groups around the country, as they must feel that public assault on a female is slightly more actionable than multiple recreational drug use.

The true travesty will be if ESPN winds up suspending or releasing Stephen A. Smith for his “provoking” comments on First Take, and subsequent defense of those words to Michele Beadle, never mind if Smith deserves it, but if it turns out ESPN cares more about its image than the NFL.

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1 Comment

  1. Jon says:

    You are dead right here. First thing any man should learn in life is to never it a woman. Period. To equate drug use and spousal abuse in the same sentence doesn’t get it. Drug use involves the action of an individual against themself. Goedel dropped the ball and continues a blind eye to balanced justice. So the adage money talks bullshit walks is appropriate.

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