All hell broke loose last Monday when the celebrity gossip channel TMZ released the now-infamous Ray Rice security camera footage.
The general public was already pissed off about Roger Goodell’s decision to hand Rice a measly two-game suspension for criminal domestic violence, but since the airing of the video the shit has truly hit the fan.
The Baltimore Ravens and NFL have sprinted full steam ahead into flail and deflect mode.
The team terminated the star running back’s contract and the league slapped down an indefinite ban from playing professional football, but much to Goodell’s chagrin, folk aren’t buying it.
A democracy of hypocrisy
Eminem was actually referring to the US government when he coined the phrase “democracy of hypocrisy”, but the shoe fits for Goodell and the National Football League as well.
Fans were furious that Matt Prater is sitting out the first four games of the season for drinking a few beers at his own house and Josh Gordon’s one-year suspension held up for failing a marijuana drug test, while Rice was set to miss just two weeks.
Yes, both Prater and Gordon were serial offenders and should have been smart enough to keep themselves out of trouble, but the fact remains that knocking your girlfriend out cold and dragging her unconscious body out of the elevator and down the hallway ought to be punished more severely than smoking weed, even if you’ve got a bong duct-taped to your face.
Goodell basically said ‘we don’t really see wife beating as a serious offense’ and the public got the message loud and clear.
Forget about the who, what, when, where and whys over the tape
The big stink at the moment revolves around Goodell denying that anyone at the league’s front office had access to the elevator tape prior to its release by the media.
But I say, “Who cares?”
Court documents stated that the charge against Rice was for striking Janay in the face with his hand and knocking her unconscious.
Do we really need a video to imagine what it looks like when a 212lb. professional football player hits his girlfriend hard enough to put her down for the count?
Rice never even denied that he was guilty.
Ozzie Newsome, the General Manager of the Ravens said, “What we saw on the video was what Ray said. Ray didn’t lie to me. He didn’t lie to me.”
Goodell knew exactly what Ray Rice had done and he chose to give him a slap on the wrist, presumably thinking that nobody would notice.
It wasn’t until the recoil set in that the commish started to back-peddle and tried to make as though he’d made a mistake.
It goes so much deeper than Roger Goodell
Fans are calling for the head of Roger Goodell on a platter, but where do they think the dude gets his power from?
In my opinion, far too many people are shaking their fists at Goodell while forgetting that the “commissioner” is basically a liaison for the 32 owners.
Without the owners’ support, Goodell doesn’t have an ounce of power.
There are certainly exceptions to the rule, but for the most part NFL owners are old über-conservative businessmen. At the risk of making this sports article overly political, is it really all that shocking that a group of super-rich (dare I say) white dudes rank marijuana consumption as a crime more serious than domestic violence?
For the record, I am not saying that every NFL owner condones wife-beating, just that the general zeitgeist in that particular circle may suffer from misogynistic tendencies.
So make no bones about it. Should Goodell get the axe, it most certainly won’t be in the name of justice.
Can you say “scapegoat” boys and girls?
So what’s next?
The role of Roger Goodell and the NFL in American politics is akin to Cardinal Richilieu and the Catholic Church in 17th century France. Ridiculous as it may be, more than a few football-related issues have sparked congressional hearings.
Even President Obama took a break from thinking about ISIS to chime in on the Ray Rice story, stating that real men don’t hit women.
Football is woven into the fabric of American culture and so these issues certainly won’t be swept under the rug as quickly as we all forgot about Justin Bieber cheating on the ice bucket challenge.
If NFL execs truly care about protecting the image of their league they may need to update their moral compass.
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