Don’t blame your team for signing Ray Rice, blame the league
While Americans were enjoying their turkey, stuffing and time with family, one man finally got the news that almost nobody but him wanted to hear. Ray Rice was reinstated into the National Football league and is now an unrestricted free agent who can sign with any team in the league.
At least four teams reportedly have an interest in signing Rice and appropriately, for a number of reasons.
We really should not be surprised when looking back on the history of the NFL. Michael Vick is playing football after going to prison for dog fighting. A former teammate of Rice with the Baltimore Ravens, Ray Lewis, pleaded guilty to obstructing justice in 2000 after he tried to cover up two murders that a friend had committed, or at least that is what the courts determined. Lewis finished his career with a Super Bowl win and a nice contract to talk football on ESPN. The list goes on and on of players, coaches and even owners who have dodged the consequences that normal civilians could never escape.
The problem is the NFL’s commissioner. Roger Goodell and the NFL Players Association collectively bargained to have this appeal process in place. In the past, Goodell has gone leaps and bounds to punish players for hits, celebrations and even flipping someone off. See Johnny Manziel. However, in this case, Goodell did not do his job and even he has dodged the backlash that really should be coming his way.
Barbara S. Jones, the former U.S. District Judge who heard the appeal made by Rice said of Goodell, “The Commissioner needed to be fair and consistent in his imposition of discipline.”
“I am not persuaded that Rice lied to, or misled, the NFL at his June interview, the indefinite suspension was an abuse of discretion and must be vacated,” Jones said.
It all comes back to one question that we will likely never know the answer to: Why did Goodell not see the tape of the punch before TMZ did? And if Goodell did see it, why did he try to cover it up? Regardless of the answer, the NFL should be looking for a new commissioner.
Do not blame teams for having interest or even signing Rice to a contract. That does not mean that Rice should not be booed every time he breathes on a football, but the blame and burden should fall solely on commissioner Goodell. The only other punishment that Goodell should be dealing out is to himself and must come in the form of a resignation.
Sean Saint Jacques can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SSaintj7.