Should The NFL’s Handling of Ray Rice Be Questioned?

The scandal involving Ray Rice and the elevator incident is something that people have been talking about for months. For those who are not familiar with the entire scandal, or have only learned about what has happened due to the recent media frenzy, the incident happened in mid-February of 2014. TMZ originally released footage of the aftermath of the incident, which showed Ray Rice dragging his wife out of the elevator, on February 19th. For the following months, the legal matters of the situation were handled, leading to Ray Rice applying for a program that could potentially clear him of the charges. On July 24th, the NFL announced a two-game suspension for Rice, with Roger Goodell standing behind the decision and Raven’s General Manager Ozzie Newsome calling the punishment “Significant but fair.” The situation was thought to be at a close until footage from inside the elevator was released by TMZ on September 8th. This in turn led to more public outrage against Ray Rice and him quickly being cut from the Baltimore Ravens and then suspended from the NFL indefinitely. NFL officials, such as NFL vice president Brian McCarthy, stated that the video was not made available to them and they only saw the video at the same time it was released by TMZ. However, The Associated Press reported that a law enforcement official did in fact send the video to the NFL office and received acknowledgment that the footage was received and viewed by officials. So it is no surprise that the current situation has raised more questions regarding the harsher punishment given to Ray Rice and whether Roger Goodell and Ozzie Newsome saw the footage before they made their original decision.

It is apparent that what Ray Rice did was wrong and that he does indeed deserve punishment. However, people are now questioning whether being suspended indefinitely is too harsh of a punishment, especially compared to the original two-game suspension. It is definitely hard to believe that the officials in charge of the NFL didn’t see the full tape of the incident before TMZ leaked the footage online, especially if you take statements from law enforcement officers and hotel management into consideration. One must question the motives of the NFL, whether they truly feel that Ray Rice deserved a harsher punishment after “new” evidence against him, or if they decided to throw him under the bus after a failed attempt at covering up and downplaying the situation until people forgot about what happened.

Whether you agree or disagree with the NFL’s decision to suspend Ray Rice from the league indefinitely, one must take notice to the way in which this will significantly effect other players within the league. Will the league issue harsher punishments for players who commit crimes and other offenses off of the field? For the past few weeks, the Minnesota Vikings have been going back in forth between deciding whether to keep Adrian Peterson or cut him from the team because of his legal issues stemming from an alleged child abuse case. Recently, reports have surfaced that the Vikings “do not foresee Peterson in their future.” Is it because the people in charge feel that this is a fitting punishment for Peterson because of his legal issues, or do they simply not want negative press to follow them the way that it followed the Ravens and the league itself after the Ray Rice incident?

Only time can tell the future of these athletes and how the NFL will continue to handle similar situations in the future.  

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