Roger Goodell To NFL Players: ‘Murdering Your Wife Will Result In Automatic 4-Game Suspension.’ This was the headline the onion sports, a satirical news website, used one day after National Football League (NFL) commissioner Roger Goodell handed down a two game suspension for physically abusing his girlfriend on July 24, 2014. The NFL thought the length of suspension was sufficient even with the knowledge that a grand jury and indicted Rice for third-degree aggravated assault. The two game suspension is half the length a player serves for testing positively for marijuana, a drug that is legal in four states and decriminalized in sixteen. The message the NFL is sending here this is that recreational drug use is actually a bigger offence than domestic abuse, which in my opinion makes no sense at all. Of course after TMZ, a celebrity news website, got its hands on the Ray Rice assault footage and released it to the public, Rice’s suspension was extended to last an entire sixteen game season. So there’s a difference in knowing that someone physically abused a woman and actually seeing it happen? Regardless, commissioner Goodell apologized and acknowledged that the NFL had made a mistake with the length of the first suspension. Another NFL team has not signed Rice since this incident so perhaps the NFL was turning over a new leaf and would be more reasonable in their treatment of players who are clearly guilty of serious wrongdoing for the future.

However, all hope of this has been erased by the way the NFL has handled defensive lineman Greg Hardy throughout 2015 NFL season. Hardy was given a ten game suspension, which was later reduced to four games for physically abusing his girlfriend in 2014 which included but not limited to an event where he threw her onto a couch covered in assault rifles. The suspension was later reduced to four games and leading up to the week of his return Hardy was quoted as saying he was going to come out “guns blazing.” Perhaps the wording was an unintentional mistake by Hardy but even so, how does the NFL’s pubic relations team even let a comment like this happen given the circumstances? The interview was published on the NFL’s official website so clearly they couldn’t care less. Okay, but Greg Hardy’s attitude toward women improved right? Nope, this was Hardy’s response to a question asked about football and New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady by Dallas Morning News reporter Brandon George:

All Greg Hardy had to do was pretend to be a good person for one interview and he couldn’t even do that. What’s even more disturbing is that an NFL team actually employs Hardy. The Dallas Cowboys are paying this disgrace of a human being to represent their team on the field and the NFL is letting them do it! At what point do NFL teams question their morality and decide that a player’s past off field issues out weight the possible positive impact he could have because of his football skills. The NFL is tarnishing their reputation by allowing Greg Hardy to continue to play football in their league. The NFL and Dallas Cowboys are forced to apologize week after week for Hardy’s behaviour and comments in the media yet he is still allowed to play. Commissioner Goodell claims ignorance whenever he’s asked about Hardy’s behaviour in order to avoid the issue. Hardy isn’t even given so much as a fine for his disgusting words yet the NFL hands out weekly fines to players for over-celebrating in the end zone after scoring a touchdown. Is that really the type of issue that’s important here? Recently there have been reports that the Cowboys have been unhappy with Hardy and might consider releasing him because he has been showing up late for team meetings. There have been countless accounts of inappropriate comments that Hardy has made but the Cowboys are more worried about him being late for team meetings. Again I ask, is that really the type of issue that’s important here?

The NFL has a duty to set a good example for its fans just like the players do. Children who are fans of the NFL idolize these players and use them as role models. By not coming down harder on players like Greg Hardy the NFL sets a bad example of children by not sending a clear message of what is acceptable and what isn’t. When Hardy shoved a coach and got into a yelling argument with a teammate during the middle of a game, cowboys management and players commended him on his passion and leadership. This could clearly lead to kids believing that disrespecting their coaches and teammates is a good way to be leader when obviously, it is not. There are plenty of other instances where the NFL just can’t get it right. Earlier in the 2015 season Jets defensive lineman IK Enkempali punched teammate Geno Smith in the jaw, which he was rightly released and suspended for doing. However, the Buffalo Bills added him to their roster and named him a team captain for their game later in the season against the Jets. Commissioner Roger Goodell continues to be inconsistent with his suspensions with no precedent being set for serious offences like domestic violence and driving under the influence but having strict rules for things marijuana use. Until the NFL implements strict rules and harsher penalties for more serious issues within the sport, it will continue to set a poor example for fans.

In conclusion, the NFL and Roger Goodell have a huge issue in their policies on the way they handle player issues within their league. Until they get their priorities in order the NFL will continue to lose respect among fans begin to uncover the ridiculousness that is the decision making of the NFL. The NFL is a model organization of so many observers around the world and it’s about time they started acting like it.

Author: Chris McCullough

Further Readings:

Recent Suspension Shows Just How Out Of Touch NFL’s Marijuana Policy Is – http://www.forbes.com/sites/vincentfrank/2015/07/03/recent-suspension-shows-just-how-out-of-touch-nfls-marijuana-policy-is/

What is Sensible Discipline for NFL Player Misconduct? – http://www.stradleylaw.com/sensible-discipline-nfl-player-misconduct/

NFL could change personal conduct discipline without CBA extension -http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/eye-on-football/25354949/nfl-could-change-personal-conduct-discipline-without-cba-extension

References:

Bergman, Jeremy. “Greg Hardy Returns from Suspension, Calls out Brady.” NFL.com. October 6, 2015. Accessed November 23, 2015. http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000551418/article/greg-hardy-returns-from-suspension-calls-out-brady.

Bien, Louis. “A Complete Timeline of the Ray Rice Assault Case.” SBNation.com. November 28, 2014. Accessed November 23, 2015. http://www.sbnation.com/nfl/2014/5/23/5744964/ray-rice-arrest-assault-statement-apology-ravens.

Edholm, Eric. “Rex Ryan Plans to Make IK Enemkpali, Geno Smith Puncher, Captain vs. Jets.” Yahoo Sports. November 9, 2015. Accessed November 23, 2015. http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nfl-shutdown-corner/rex-ryan-plans-to-make-ik-enemkpali–geno-smith-puncher–captain-vs–jets-203034784.html.

Galanis, Sam. “Katie Nolan Rips Greg Hardy, NFL For Cowboys DE’s ‘Garbage’ Comments.” NESN.com. October 8, 2015. Accessed November 23, 2015. http://nesn.com/2015/10/katie-nolan-rips-greg-hardy-nfl-for-cowboys-des-garbage-comments-video/.

Mandell, Nina. “Roger Goodell Is the Only Person That Hasn’t Seen Greg Hardy’s Comments and That’s a Problem.” For The Win. October 8, 2015. Accessed November 23, 2015. http://ftw.usatoday.com/2015/10/roger-goodell-is-the-only-person-that-hasnt-seen-greg-hardys-comments-and-thats-a-problem.

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