The NFL’s Darkest Hour

By Alex Norman

Domestic violence is a serious problem in this country.

According to safehorizon.org, one in four women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime.

This is something we should all care about.

The National Football League? Not so much.

The Baltimore Ravens organization and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell knew for months that Ravens running back Ray Rice knocked his then-fiancée, now-wife Janay Palmer unconscious in the elevator of an Atlantic City casino.

Only after video emerged publicly of the attack last week did the Ravens or the NFL choose to do anything significant in terms of punishment.

Only then did the Ravens cut Rice from the team, and only after that did Goodell suspend Rice indefinitely.

Which begs the question… what the heck is wrong with these people?

The NFL is a multi-billion dollar business.  There are few businesses as powerful in this country.  TV ratings continue to climb.  Tommy from the garage and Jessica from the library and David from the convenience store all have something in common, watching the games each week and rooting for their Jaguars or Titans or Vikings.

This apparently allows fans to look past the inconvenient truth, that the league time and time again comes up woefully short when it comes to disciplining its players in the area of domestic violence.

On September 1st, 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald was charged with felony domestic violence for an alleged incident involving his pregnant fiancée.   According to the Sacramento Bee, the arrest was on suspicion for “inflicting injury on a spouse or cohabitant.”

So where was McDonald when San Francisco faced Dallas in the season opener on September 7th?

Of course he was playing.

Back in May Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend, Nicole Holder.  According to reports, Hardy allegedly threw her onto a couch which was covered with assault weapons, threatened to shoot her and put his hands around her neck.

Hardy was convicted on July 15th, received 18 months’ probation and a 60-day suspended jail sentence.

So where was Hardy when Carolina faced Tampa Bay in the season opener on September 7th?

Of course he was playing.

But let’s go back to the Rice situation.  The Ravens and the NFL maintain that they never saw the TMZ Sports video of Rice punching Janay in the face inside that elevator until everyone else did, and once that “new video” was seen, they acted immediately.

Well, there is the initial video that everyone did see, posted by TMZ Sports back in February of Rice dragging an unconscious Palmer out of the elevator moments after the attack.  That video was worthy of no punishment (Ravens) or minimal punishment (a two game NFL suspension).

Why wasn’t that video enough for the Ravens or the National Football League?  Exactly what did they think happened in that elevator, that Janay slipped and fell into the handrail, knocking herself unconscious?  Rice should have received a lengthy suspension immediately.

And what of the Ravens and the NFL saying they never saw that video of the punch.  Are we really supposed to believe that?  And if we are supposed to believe that… why wouldn’t they move heaven and earth to make sure they saw that video before dolling out punishment?

The answers, of course, are obvious.  The Ravens need their starting running back.  The NFL needs one of their marquee players on the field so they can sell #27 jerseys.

The Ravens and the NFL expected this to go away once the season began, hoping that fans cared more about their fantasy football team than an “alleged” assault.

That bastion of journalistic integrity TMZ ruined those grand plans.

So where do we go from here.  Should we stop watching the games?  Should we delete our fantasy football teams? Should be take our NFL related jerseys and hats and commemorative dishes and official potato chips and throw them in the dumpster?

Let’s be honest.  None of that is happening. And besides, the people that would end up hurting are the guy making $10/hour to take your $25 parking fee, or the lady getting your popcorn in time for kickoff. The owners?  They sit in their luxury boxes lighting cigars with $100 bills.

But we can demand better.  We can make our voices heard that this is not acceptable.  Because if we are going to devote some of our hard earned time and money to the National Football League, teams and officials should actually give a darn about domestic violence.

Right now that isn’t the case.

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