Domestic violence in the NFL: How many times?

It’s hard to argue that there is a sporting orga­nization in existence with a reputation worse than that of the National Football League. With the recent emergence of evidence regarding Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE (which is caused by a number of traumatic blows to the head), the number of parents who want their children to play football is lower than ever; just as it should be. There isn’t any­thing in the world that is worth making an x-ray of your brain look like a slice of Swiss cheese.

The sad thing is, what happens to players during the course of the game is one of last things the NFL has to worry about. September of 2015 was the first time an NFL player had not been arrested in over six years. Most of the crimes match up with the trends you see in the general public. The most common arrests among both NFL players and the general pub­lic are DUI. However, since the year 2000, 83 NFL players have been arrested on domestic violence charges. That comes out to an arrest rate of an astonishing 55.4 percent. This means that 48 percent of arrests for violent crimes committed by NFL players result from domes­tic violence, compared to the national average of just 21 percent.

The NFL is notoriously bad at properly dis­ciplining its players. Evidence of this became clear when Baltimore Raven’s star running back Ray Rice was suspended just two games for violating the league’s domestic violence policy. Rice and his then-fiancé Janay Palmer were arrested after the two got into an “alter­cation” in Atlantic City. A few days after the ar­rest, footage emerged of Rice dragging the limp body of his fiancé out of an elevator. While this may seem like a rather condemning piece of ev­idence, according to the NFL, it only warrants a two-game suspension. There are 16 games in the regular season. Rice would be back to scor­ing touchdowns in no time.

One would think the Raven’s organization would be quick to take action and cut ties with someone who represented them so poorly, that was far from the case. Throughout the offsea­son, both head coach John Harbaugh and gen­eral manager Ozzie Newsome defended their player and insisted he was still very much a part of their plans for the upcoming season.

It wasn’t until a few months later when a sec­ond part of the video emerged that the Ravens and the NFL began to reevaluate their deci­sion. This portion of the footage showed Rice striking Palmer across the face in the elevator and leaving her unconscious on the floor. In a statement addressing the new footage, Com­missioner Roger Goodell said, “I take respon­sibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I didn’t get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will.” In this case, do­ing better meant changing the two-game sus­pension to a six-game one for first offense, and a lifetime ban for a second incident. A few days later, the footage of what took place in the ele­vator was put online for all to see. The Ravens were in a corner. Now that everyone could see the brutality of what Rice did, the franchise had no choice but to release him.

But why did it take so long for the correct decision to be made when it should have been made instantaneously? Did it really take com­plete video evidence to properly discipline someone who knocked his significant other out cold in public? The NFL has a built up an extensive list of problems in the past few years and they need to fix them soon. At the top of that list should be the leagues domestic vio­lence. One player has already been arrested for striking his girlfriend in 2016 and if I had to guess I’d say he won’t be the last. By letting these types of incidences go unpunished the league is sending a message to the public that says they don’t care about what their players do off the field as long as the perform on Sundays. If this doesn’t change, the public may want to reevaluate what we call “America’s Game.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *