While former Ravens RB Ray Rice deserves what has come his way, it’s difficult to ignore Commissioner Roger Goodell’s bungling of the situation. Presumably, the police/DA watched the video from inside the elevator immediately following Rice’s assault. Legally, Rice may or may not have received favorable treatment, but he was allowed to enter New Jersey’s pretrial intervention program.
“The intervention program allows first-time offenders to have charges against them dismissed after participating in the program and meeting certain conditions. The county prosecutor will decide whether Rice is allowed to enter the program.”
Again, Roger Goodell suspending Rice for two games was extremely lenient, even before the latest video was released. While the public could only speculate about what happened in the elevator prior to yesterday, the video from outside the elevator before and immediately after were enough to damn Rice, and rightfully so.
Commissioner Goodell, in response to Rice’s domestic violence case, worked with different counsels and groups to shape a new, more appropriate discipline policy for similar cases going forward. A six game suspension for first time violators and an indefinite suspension for repeat offenders became the codified discipline system about two weeks ago, primarily in response to public outcry about Rice’s soft punishment.
Now, we have yet another inconsistent ruling from Goodell’s camp, as Rice has been suspended indefinitely after a “first offense” following the release of the footage from inside the elevator. This should have been the outcome all along. Regardless of whether or not the NFL saw the tape from inside the elevator prior to yesterday, they should have been more judicious and responsible from the start; however, this isn’t consistent with the policies Goodell laid out less than a month ago.
Didn’t Goodell just handcraft the perfect discipline system? Speaking to groups who represent such causes doesn’t translate to good PR when you fail to make the right decision to begin with. The players accepted Goodell’s authority in the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) a few years ago, but it’s clear that some major overhaul of the system is necessary.
Going forward, Goodell has set a precedent where cases aren’t closed, even after NFL review. How does this impact the negotiations regarding substance abuse/performance enhancing drugs? If the NFL wants to enact change in the middle of the season, it raises more questions.
Will all prior cases be considered? Is this only for Josh Gordon and Wes Welker? Will a player’s indictments into the drug program be reviewed (Stage I, II, III)? What happens to roster moves made with the old rules in place? The Giants released Will Hill (Ravens) because he is serving a four game suspension to start this season. Do they get consideration?
There isn’t any rhyme or reason to Goodell’s policies or rulings, and he continues to open a can of worms with every tough decision he faces. He has invited all of the criticism he garners by deciding to act outside the law when it serves him, and within the law when it serves him. Ultimately, Rice’s case was handled the way it should have been from the beginning, though somehow, Goodell still found a way to contradict himself.