Last Week, James B. Barnes brought us up to speed on Stephen A. Smith’s, let’s call it, poorly-worded “analysis” regarding Ray Rice beating his then-girlfriend-now-wife into unconsciousness. Smith’s comments were unarticulated, misdirected, and irresponsible. However, the real danger with Smith’s comments lies less in their actual intent and much more in the way they are likely to be misunderstood by an already ignorant subset of socially archaic, sometimes uneducated men who could easily misconstrue his words as justification for their actions – that is, for physically abusing a woman.
But, that’s not all we have on the subject of the NFL and its grand support of women. Oh, no. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, in an apparent effort to really stick it to Rice and make a statement on how much the league aims to support women, recently handed Rice a planned, TWO-WEEK suspension.
Cue the track screech.
Skip to silence.
Enter the single bird chirping.
Yes, you read that correctly: a full two weeks for knocking a woman out. That is half the suspension time given to players who test positive for Adderall, not to mention a mere slap on the wrist compared to the indefinite suspension that Michael Vick received in 2007 for his role in a dog fighting ring.
To critics, Goodell has since come out with the following retorts:
“When we make decisions, we always get reactions,” he said.
“We have to remain consistent,” he said. “We can’t just make up the discipline. It has to be consistent with other cases, and it was.”
Two weeks, Goodell? Maybe go out on a limb and leverage Rice’s cooperation and counseling in an effort from getting him kicked out of the sport forever. But to only “punish” him with an insulting two weeks suspension and call it “consistent”?
If that is consistent, then according to Goodell, women are worth less than a legal-yet-over-prescribed form of speed taken by adolescent teens; if that ruling is “consistent,” then according to Goodell, women are worth less than dogs.
Justin Forsett, coincidentally enough also a Baltimore Raven, recently wrote an unrelated column in Sporting News where he notes the following:
“One of the first things a player receives when he puts on the NFL shield is influence. The league is a billion-dollar industry that reaches millions of people across the globe. So when a player puts on that uniform on Sunday, he instantly has the attention and respect of a wide range of people.”
Influence. It is one of the first things a player receives and it should be the first thing taken away. And, if it is the player that receives it, it is Roger Goodell who ultimately bestows it and subsequently should take it away in times such as these. Unfortunately, Goodell and the NFL have failed us miserably in a time of progressive need.
Roxanne Jones, founding editor of ESPN The Magazine and former VP of ESPN, has since come out with an open letter to Goodell and a call to action for all women for an NFL Blackout on September 21st, the day Rice is scheduled to return to the field. The call to action is targeted at women, i.e. 45% of the NFL’s customer base, but it is certainly not limited only to us.
So, when the NFL resumes and my favorite team, The Baltimore Ravens, take to the field on September 21st, I won’t be watching the game.
The question is: will you?