There will always be hope for our country as long as more people watch Monday Night Football than…[sitcoms]––Michael Logsdon
Lately the sports media’s attention has been dominated by reports about domestic abuse in the NFL, with the Ray Rice scandal getting a lion’s share of the coverage. The video of Rice knocking out his then fiancé is utterly repulsive. The fact that Rice is a world-class athlete (a strapping alpha male to boot) makes the attack even more reprehensible. However, with all the media attention on this issue, is the NFL missing an opportunity?
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s mishandling of the initial response towards this issue was a huge blunder, then when a video emerged showing the attack, Goodell and the NFL took a knee-jerk reaction of throwing Rice out of the NFL. This reactionary response is evidence of a lack of direction and a clear strategy on how to best address this issue.
It is the opinion of A Crow’s View that the steps the NFL took do not help Rice’s wife or others. In fact, absolutely nothing the NFL did to address this situation is going to stop this type of event from happening again. Even worse, the steps taken by the NFL place a hardship on Rice and his wife, while putting pressure on other players’ and their spouses to keep silent, so they don’t face a similar situation.
It is clear the suspension is a move designed to placate the NFL’s critics and to bolster its weak stance on domestic abuse. Based on the continued media coverage and calls for impeachment of Goodell, this approach isn’t working because society sees this tactic for what it is: nothing more than a quick-fix PR attempt.
Appeasing critics or having a zero tolerance policy will not solve this problem. This issue requires the NFL to take a different approach. One that will prevent future occurrences from happening and ensures the safety of players’ spouses and others.
First, the league needs to be upfront about what it knew and when, regarding the Rice video.
Second, bring Rice and his wife into NFL headquarters and address the discipline issues with them.
Third, all fines leveled against Rice by the NFL should be waived, if donations of equal value are made to domestic violence organizations.
Fourth, put in place an option that will allow Rice to salvage his career if he meets strict requirements set by the NFL. This option must be stressed that it is available only if he meets all requirements; however, the team owners will have the option of keeping Rice on their roster.
Fifth, be open about the disciplinary steps and effectively explain how these steps will help victims and the abuser from repeat behavior.
With all the resources at the NFL’s disposal, it should not be taking a reactionary response to domestic violence. It should be dealt with in a manner that will not force those who are trapped in this toxic environment into silence, or force abusers to use their resources to prevent such incidences from becoming public simple to keep their jobs. Helping people should be the goal, not just cleaning up the NFL’s image.
The reasons the NFL should follow these five steps are clear. They immediately help to improve the situation of all women associated with the NFL. First, they remove the fear of losing their financial situation if they are in an abusive relationship, by taking away the need to keep silent or further hide the abuse. Second, these steps will show that the NFL is engaged on the issue of domestic abuse and actively seeking to protect the victims of violence. Moreover, following these steps will demonstrate that the NFL is working with Ray and Janay Rice to safeguard her safety and actively trying to ensure that no future incidences of abuse occurs.
The NFL is missing a golden opportunity. If they use these steps, a situation is created which will prompt a great storyline of redemption and second chance that society eats up. More importantly, they don’t cast a veil of silence over the abused or abuser to hide their faults; in stead, they will create an environment that seeks to improve lives. This is the best way to ensure the safety of Janay and other women of the NFL.