Ever since the Ray Rice incident, the NFL has been coming down hard on players who have been caught up in any sort of domestic dispute.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry is the latest star to fall into this category, but his case is very different from the others that have been seen recently.
Last March, police were called to Landry’s home for a domestic incident involving Landry and his girlfriend, Estrella Cerquiera. Initial reports said that Landry used his hands, fist, feet and teeth, but no weapons.
However, according to Cerquiera, a different version of events took place that night.
“The father of my child and I had a vocal disagreement resulting in someone calling 911,” Cerquiera said in a statement. “There were no arrests made, there were no criminal charges, I was not in any way physically harmed.”
Cerquiera also said that Landry would never hurt her, and to stop spreading false stories.
So, given that Landry’s own girlfriend said nothing happened and there were no criminal charges, why is the NFL continuing to investigate what is seemingly a non-issue?
The bottom line is, the NFL has a major perception problem and a lot of it has to do with domestic violence issues.
Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott is another player who was never charged with anything, but has been hit with a six-game suspension by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, which was upheld after an appeal.
Some have viewed the suspension as harsh, given the lack of evidence against Elliott and since it has been proven that Elliott’s accuser instructed a friend to lie to police about what happened the night of the alleged incident. However, Goodell doesn’t have much of a choice when it comes to levying a suspension like the one that he did with Elliott.
Whether or not Elliott and Landry actually committed crimes is irrelevant to the league at this point. What matters is that their alleged actions paint the league in a negative light and the NFL already gets enough negative publicity regarding safety concerns as it is.
Combine safety concerns being at an all-time high and a growing domestic violence issue and the picture is not pretty. When another player’s name is in the news due to a domestic violence incident, all the public can do is shake its head and chalk it up to the culture of the NFL.
With stricter domestic violence penalties, Goodell is trying to show that the league is cracking down on the issue and any future incidents will not be tolerated.
The suspension of Elliott and the possible suspension of Landry show that even the biggest stars of the sport are not above the rules. Despite their stature, they must abide by the rules just like everyone else, or face the now-large consequences that come with breaking them.
Although the NFL’s domestic violence policy has been inconsistent when it comes to giving out punishments, Goodell and the rest of the league’s administration have slowly started to take the appropriate steps to solve a problem that is plaguing the league.
Should Elliott and Landry be suspended? That is legitimate given the lack of evidence, but there is a simple solution to avoiding suspensions all together.
Players need to do whatever they can to remove themselves from possible domestic violence incidents. It takes a lot to get to the NFL and one little domestic violence issue can ruin all of that hard work and dedication.
Conduct detrimental to the league warrants a suspension in today’s NFL and expect commissioner Goodell to keep cracking down.
Tyler Calvaruso is a journalism major for Howell, N.J. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @tyler_calvaruso.