WASHINGTON, November 28, 2014 — The announcement that Ray Rice was reinstated by the NFL is, unfortunately, not surprising.
The NFL suspended Ray Rice indefinitely and his team, Baltimore Ravens, released him after TMZ easily obtained a surveillance video of the confrontation between Ray Rice and his now wife, Janay.
The National Football League hoped to earn the forgiveness from their outraged fans with the suspension, but anyone who believes the NFL now understands and appreciates the violence of domestic abuse needs to take a closer look at how the organization handles accusations of abuse when there is not a released video.
According to TMZ, Revel Casino in Atlantic City were never asked for a copy of the video from inside the elevator by the NFL, if they had the hotel would have been happy to provide it.
The police had a copy of the video, Rice’s attorney had a copy of the video, and even TMZ got a copy of the video. So why didn’t the NFL?
It appears that Commissioner Roger Goodell felt he had enough information to hand down the initial two game suspension to Rice without actually obtaining the information.
It would be a worse scenario if Goodell did see the video and gave Rice a two game penalty until the video became public and only then did he decide it was so heinous that the act deserved an indefinite suspension. However, even when Goodell handed down the initial penalty, he knew Rice was accused of domestic violence against Janay Rice. The first video clearly showed Rice and Janay in an elevator arguing, and then a shot of Janay unconscious on the floor, suggesting Rice was responsible.
Right now there are two other NFL players involved in domestic abuse cases but are still playing for the league because they were lucky enough to commit their acts of violence in locations where there were no cameras.
Greg Hardy plays defensive end for the Carolina Panthers and was convicted in July for assaulting his girlfriend and making threats.
Hardy immediately appealed his convictions and has continued to be a Panther.
The NFL has taken the stand that since he is appealing the decision, he isn’t actually guilty yet. The organization believes that he cannot be considered guilty until his appeal is heard and although his appellate date is set for November 17, Hardy’s attorney is convinced that it will not actually take place until after the NFL season is over. How convenient.
Meanwhile in San Francisco, the 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald is facing felony domestic violence charge but was playing football for his team this past Sunday.
The other Harbaugh, Jim, brother of Rice’s coach, coach of the 49ers told KNBR radio in an interview that the key word is “convicted.” As McDonald has not been so convicted, he will continue to play.
Keep in mind that Rice was never actually convicted. He plea bargained a deal that would allow his record to be erased of the charge.
McDonald was released from jail on Sunday August 31, exactly one week before he was on the football field, on $25,000 bail.
The alleged incident involves McDonald’s pregnant fiancé during a birthday party at the football player’s home.
McDonald is the first player to be charged with domestic violence since Goodell revised his two game suspension policy to a six game suspension for a first offence and a ban ranging from one year to lifetime for second offence.
You can bet that McDonald and Goodell are hoping that TMZ isn’t currently looking for people attending that party with cell phone video.
The number of NFL players who have been charged with domestic violence yet received no punishment from the league are numerous. Some of these players received punishments wither from the court system or their team but not from the league itself.
AJ Jefferson was with the Minnesota Viking when he was charged with felony domestic violence for choking his girlfriend. The Vikings cut him from the team but he was quickly picked up by the Seattle Seahawks. He is currently not playing for Seattle because he is on injured reserve for an ankle injury and not suspended for domestic abuse.
Leroy Hill was with the Seattle Seahawks when he was arrested on fourth degree assault and unlawful imprisonment. It was the second time Hill was arrested for domestic violence in the past four years. The charges were ultimately dropped.
Robert Sands of the Cincinnati Bangles was charged with assault of the fourth degree after his wife was treated at an area hospital. He was released by the Bangles after spending the entire season on injured reserve.
Chad Johnson who had changed his name to Chad Ochocinco for a period of time was released from the Miami Dolphins after he was arrested for head-butting his wife. Johnson is currently playing with the Canadian Football League.
Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys turned himself in and was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence after pushing his mother during an argument. He continues to play for the Cowboys. It seems that the Cowboys and NFL were satisfied when Bryant stated last year that “he was done with domestic violence”.
Brandon Marshall continues to play football for the Chicago Bears despite being charged with domestic violence twice. Marshall has had ten different accusations against him, mostly involving women, and has only received one game suspension in total.
Brandon Underwood was a Green Bay Packer when charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct after an argument with wife. Earlier that same year, Underwood pleaded no contest after being charged in a prostitution case and was also fined $379 by a judge after two women alleged he had sexually assaulted them.
Quinn Ojinnaka played for the Patriots, Rams and Colts after he served a one game suspension for his arrest for pushing his wife down the stairs over an argument about Facebook.
James Harrison was released by the Steelers and picked up by the Bangles not because of his arrest for hitting his girlfriend but because they could not come to a pay agreement.
Will Smith continued to play for the New Orleans Saints and then the New England Patriots even though he had been charged with domestic abuse battery for pulling his wife down the street by her hair.
Jermaine Phillips of Tampa Bay did not face a penalty from the NFL despite being charged with domestic abuse by strangulation for trying to choke his wife after she confronted him about a phone number on his cell phone.
Choking, pulling down the street by hair, hitting and pushing down older women. How does Roger Goodell believe any of these incidents would look like if there happened to be a video camera running nearby?
Violence is brutal. A player should not be punished just when pushed into it as part of a PR campaign.
Does our society really believe that if a person is talented in playing a game that they are above the law?
The NFL has an opportunity to step up and show all employers that this behavior will not be tolerated no matter who does it.
Unfortunately, chances are that after Rice publicly apologizes and attends some sort of counseling and the noise dies down, at least one NFL team will be willing to take a chance on Rice.
This article was originally published in the Communities on September 9, 2014.