I have always been a big fan of the personal conduct policy in the NFL. The players and coaches of this league are role models and public figures and are well compensated for the work they do. Enforcement should be justified, swift and appropriate. However, for any punitive action to be effective on a group of people there must be consistency to the greatest degree possible.
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The Ray Rice suspension is a travesty. I realize the guy has not been convicted, but he has been indicted on a charge that carries a 3 to 5 year sentence. Whether guilty or not guilty, a two game suspension is entirely inappropriate. My opinion does not come from being a Steelers fan, merely from wanting to see consistent treatment.
Let’s start by examining our hometown example, Big Ben. He was suspended 6 games, which was reduced to 4. No charges filed, no video evidence, only his word against hers. In fact, Ben was the first player suspended by Goodell under the policy that had not been charged with anything.I had no problem with the suspension that Ben received, and I feel very strongly that these guys should be held to a higher standard.
Vincent Jackson was suspended three games in 2010 for pleading guilty to DUI. Michael Vick was suspended for 6 and ended up with a 2 game suspension, but he did go to prison so essentially his suspension was 18 months. Plaxico Burress got four games for illegally carrying and discharging a firearm, for which he also went to prison for nearly two years.
There must be standards in punishment. Roger Goodell and the league need to look at this and establish some kind of accepted penalty based on the severity of the incident. To me, if any charges are filed it should be escalated. When action is not consistent, firm and punitive, players will simply weigh the penalty against the action and conduct themselves accordingly. That does not make for a better league or a better set of players going forward. As fans, we should simply demand more of the league that we give our heart, soul and money to support.