Despite Explanation, NFL Still Falls Flat With Rice Suspension


Jun 19, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (27) talks during minicamp at the Under Armour Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

It’s like a festering sore that just won’t go away.  Ever since the Ray Rice suspension was handed down last week, that’s they way I’ve felt about the decision and those who embody the power and decision making within the NFL.

The way the NFL and Commish Goodell handled the suspension of Ray Rice, it appears that this incident was more of a minor annoyance than an infested wound and tarnish to the shield.

The whole situation feels wrong and just plain ‘dirty’ like some back room deals that happen between lawyers and defendants when it’s clear they are guilty of committing a crime that deserves a severe punishment.  Turns out that just might be how this all went down minus the greasy dirt ball lawyers… although I’m not arguing that there weren’t some greasy dirt ball people present at the time.  According to Peter King over at, Rice and his wife met with Goodell, two of his cronies – Jeff Pash and Adolpho Birch, Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome, and team president Dick Cass on June 16th.  During that meeting Rice’s wife gave a “moving and apparently convincing case” that the incident was no big deal.

Myself and others like Diana Moskovitz over at Deadspin believe Ray’s wife shouldn’t even have been in that meeting room.  Ever.  What person – man or woman – would feel compelled to speak freely when their attacker and his bosses are in all in the same room with them?  Who I ask?  I don’t claim to be a psychologist or a criminal expert, but I think anyone who has been attacked (and possibly attacked previously) would be scared shitless and fail to say a single incriminating word in a meeting like that.

So Ray Rice got his ‘Get out of jail card’ (quite literally), and received a slap on the wrist.  His closest friends are calling it a wake up call.  Let’s hope so.

Returning the microscope back to the NFL, it’s still quite unfathomable that the NFL fell as flat on it’s face as it did with this ruling.  It couldn’t be any clearer that the NFL cares more about protecting “the shield” than it does about sending the right message.  The shield as it turns out is made of gold – money.  That’s nothing new, but for those who are still innocent in the ways of sports and business, the NFL has no hesitation to hide its hand anymore in what it really really cares about.  Oh hey, you can still by a Ray Rice Womens Draft Him Shimmer V-Neck for only $59.95!!!   Swell.

The NFL will tell you that what they did was totally in line with how punishments like these go.  In an interview on ESPN’s Mike & Mike, NFL senior VP of labor policy Adolpho Birch defended the NFL’s decision.  Hmmm, that names sounds familiar.  Let me just scroll up and look for… oh that’s right… he’s one of the guys who was in the meeting room with Janay Rice.  When pressed if commish Rodger Goodell had seen footage of the incident beyond what the public has seen, Birch dodged and ducked like a beauty.  He didn’t confirm.  He didn’t deny.  Just towed the narrative that the NFL dished out the just punishment that cost this man two games and hundreds of thousands of dollars.  :sheds tear:

The NFL only cares about money and protecting every asset that is responsible for making that money… including some guy who swiftly uppercut and knocked out his soon to be wife.

Baltimore’s a big market.  19th biggest franchise of net worth in the entire world according to Forbes.  They can’t have some wife beater tarnish that golden shield (that just so happens to be in the shape of a calf) now can they?  But, Rice brings in a ton of jersey sales, season ticket sales, and gives Baltimore the best chance to be very competitive, which will drive the TV markets.  Decisions decisions.

The NFL had an opportunity to make a very strong statement.  And, in fact they did.  It just happened to be the worst one they could have made.

Maybe Steeler Nation can make a strong statement.  Maybe they can throw wife beater undershirts at Rice when he takes the field on Sunday night November 2nd on national television.