SBD/July 24, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Facing Heavy Criticism On Social Media For Suspending Ray Rice Just Two Games

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Rice reportedly will now be asked by the NFL to take counseling
The NFL has suspended Ravens RB Ray Rice for two games without pay and fined him $58,000 following his domestic violence arrest in February for assaulting his then-fiance, according to sources cited by Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. A source said that Rice also "will be asked by the NFL to take counseling." The source added that Rice will be "subject to further discipline if he commits any further violations." Rice pleaded not guilty to a "third-degree charge of aggravated assault and avoided trial by being accepted into a pretrial intervention program in May" (ESPN.com, 7/24). The two-game suspension drew the ire of many Twitter users this morning who deemed it too short. SI's Don Banks wrote, "NFL not usually tone deaf, but 2 game suspension for Ray Rice defies logic and explanation. Sends wrong message in all capitals." NFL.com's Albert Breer: "Goes without saying that it's difficult to amend the punishment with the crime in the Ray Rice case." SI's Richard Deitsch: "People should go off on the NFL for the Ray Rice non-punishment. The optics are horrible on the adjudication." ESPN.com's Pat McManamon: "Trying to somehow come to grips with the judgment of two games for Ray Rice. To be honest, I can't. I simply can't." CSN New England's Sean McAdam: "A two-game suspension for beating a woman unconscious? On video? Tell me again how well-run the NFL is and how tough Goodell is." CBSSports.com's Dayn Perry: "So much of what's wrong with the NFL is packed neatly into the Ray Rice suspension." The Boston Globe's Eric Wilbur: "It's easier and easier to see why some people hate the NFL" (TWITTER.com, 7/24).

STRONGER MESSAGE SHOULD HAVE BEEN SENT: The length of Rice's suspension is drawing a fair amount of criticism among those who feel the NFL should have sent a stronger message concerning domestic violence. ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky wrote, "Rice suspension is insufficient and sends terrible message about violence against women and where it stands in NFL pecking order of trouble." ESPNW.com's Jane McManus wrote, "Last month I interviewed NFL head of HR. Robert Gulliver told me, 'We just simply don’t tolerate instances of domestic violence.'" Former NFLer Scott Fujita: "The message to my wife & 3 daughters today? The business that's been such a big part of our life, really doesn't give a f**k about you." ESPN's Jim Trotter: "For @nflcommish to be so lenient at a time when the NFL is courting female fans? Wow. Just wow." The S.F. Chronicle's Ann Killion: "NFL's huge marketing push towards women just took a step backwards." The Washington Post's Cindy Boren: "The NFL is sending a message with the Ray Rice suspension. Unfortunately, it's to women." USA Today's Maggie Hendricks: "Yeah, I'm pretty unhappy that the NFL thinks smoking a joint is worse than knocking out a woman." The N.Y. Daily News' Ralph Vacchiano: "Taking Aderall with a prescription but failing to fill out the paperwork with the league gets you four games. Knocking out a woman? Two." CBSSports.com's Will Brinson: "Good thing Ray Rice didn’t hit his wife in the face with a bong." Pro Football Talk's Darin Gantt: "The ridiculousness of the NFL's tough stance on recreational drugs is separate from the shameful disdain they have for women." Complex magazine's Russ Bengtson: "Did Ray Rice's fiancée have to undergo any sort of concussion protocol, @nfl?" Blogger Kyle Koster: "It's nice Ray Rice will return in time to wear pink for a month to draw attention to important women's issues" (TWITTER.com, 7/24).

DO THE CRIME, SERVE THE TIME? Radio host Dan Patrick said when the NFL "doles out punishment, we have a hard time understanding it." If Rice "got popped for Adderall or smoking pot, it's four games," and fans are now "trying to figure out the crime and punishment here." NFL Network's Rich Eisen said, "Sometimes people scratch their heads because they see how much people get suspended for drug-related suspensions, and then you compare it to something like this." He noted since the league's drug program is part of the CBA, it is "probably a little bit more codified in what you can suspend somebody for and for how long it's for than something outside of that program." Eisen: "We should sort of hold off saying, 'Well, you know what, somebody gets (caught) with Adderall and so the league considers Adderall more of an offense than domestic violence.' I think we need to hold our horses on the comparison front on that." But Patrick said, "It's perception and reality, and that's what all these leagues deal with" ("The Dan Patrick Show," 7/24).

DID LEAGUE GET IT RIGHT? ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said, "We don't know the particulars of what happened. What we do know is that we saw him dragging her out of an elevator, that she appeared to be unconscious and that, according to the police report, she was struck. By virtue of that alone in this society that we live in, you have to send a message that this is not something that will either be condoned nor tolerated. I think if it had been more than two games, based on what we don’t know, based on them working out their personal issues with one another, I think it would have been excessive. I think a two-game suspension is appropriate because it sends the right message without so much suffering on the part of Ray Rice’s family and that of the Baltimore Ravens.” ESPN’s Skip Bayless added, “I don't know if there was another video of what happened inside the elevator.  I don't know if Roger Goodell and company have seen that. ... But to me, given the initial outcry over this, this seems like a pretty light sentence to me of only two games. This is more in the wrist slap area to me." He added, "This was the lightest punishment he could have gotten for what transpired” (“First Take,” ESPN2, 7/24). Meanwhile, in Baltimore, Peter Schmuck writes, “If Rice continues to put his personal and professional life in order, the right message will be sent regardless of the actual length of the suspension.” Schmuck: “Whether you believe the suspension is too short or just right is really a matter of perception. Just guessing, but if a baseball player was suspended for 20 games for the same offense, it probably would appear to the general public to be a harsher penalty even though that would actually be a slightly lower percentage of the season (and the player's salary) than a two-game suspension in the NFL” (BALTIMORESUN.com, 7/24).
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