Monday, August 24, 2015
On February 15, 2014 Ray Rice was arrested after he lost his temper and punched his then fiancée knocking her unconscious. The news media and social media went crazy. They were demanding that something be done. This kind of behavior on the part of a professional football player was unacceptable. What was the league going to do about it?
The commissioner took action in the form of a 2-game suspension. (Note: “Former Ravens cornerbacks Cary Williams and Fabian Washington earned two- and one-game suspensions, respectively, for similar first-time offenses of domestic violence, though neither was caught on tape.”) The news media and social media went crazy again. This was insufficient punishment for such an egregious act. There were calls for the commissioner’s resignation based on his obvious insensitivity. The league went into the huddle and came out with a personal behavior policy to standardize the punishment for these outside activities instead of leaving it to the discretion of the coach, owner or commissioner to rule on each according to the situation.
On September 8 the team released him and the NFL gave him an indefinite suspension. Since then Ray Rice has been unable to play football for any team. He is now a free agent, but any team that signs him will, according to some reports, likely have to deal with possible public backlash.
On August 11, 2015 IK Enemkpali a linebacker for the New York Jets “sucker punched” his quarterback, Geno Smith, after an altercation in the locker room. Smith will miss 6-to-10 weeks of the season after suffering a broken jaw from the one-sided confrontation.
Except in the sports news, there was hardly a peep. Outside of that, the news media made very little of the incident and there was not a ripple on social media. The coach called the behavior childish and cut Enemkpali from the team. The next day the Buffalo Bills signed him off waivers for $510,000 for the 2015 season.
Both incidents involved a professional football player losing his temper and striking a defenseless, apparently unsuspecting person. In one case the woman publicly forgave her attacker and later married him. In the other case the reaction is unknown because the news coverage was so scant.
I understand the difference between domestic violence and violence committed in a football locker room, but is it enough of a difference to elicit such vastly different public reactions? Both broke the law. Both are bad role models. It kind of makes me wonder who is pulling our strings and deciding what we should get really upset about and what we should ignore or let pass.