Ray Rice, Roger Goodell, Etc.
The Confidential is an ACC blog, but occasionally will delve into broader issues . Having spent far too much time in the car listening to talking heads analyze and reanalyze the Ray Rice/Roger Goodell issue, it is hard not to have several opinions. Some you may agree with. Some you may not agree with. First and foremost… why is this a domestic abuse issue in the first place? Let me explain.
This is not, in my opinion, a domestic abuse issue. The video of the Ray Rice punch was despicable. When one thinks of domestic violence, they think of slaps and pushes… not closed-fist punches to the face that lead to a knockout. When you have a punch of a non-family member in public, it should be battery (its statutory equivalents), not domestic abuse.
First, Ray Rice punched his fiance, not a wife. While she was slated to become, and did become, his wife… she was not his wife on the date of the incident. She was not family. She was not entitled to any of Ray Rice’s assets if there had been an untimely passing. She was in a relationship with him, but she was not family. Whether domestic abuse must apply to a non-spousal situation can be discretionary. In this case, the prosecutor had that discretion.
Of course, even if she was his wife… why does being a spouse lead to lesser societal rights? If I had spit on Ray Rice and he coldcocked me, why would there be different charges than if his fiance did the same thing? This is absurd. Ray Rice would be charged with battery. Perhaps I would too for a spit. If I was just using words to incite, perhaps not. It is battery. The fact that it comes from a loved one should not change the analysis. The same act should not be punished differently just because of the victim’s status.
Now, many times, domestic abuse happens in the home, following a series of escalating events that are not recorded. A push from a male after being slapped ten times by a female may be a lot more about de-escalating the situation than it would be if not prompted. The history of an event can be muddled and confusing. If the police are not there, it is hard to know who to assign full blame too. Especially if both participants are unwilling to press charges. Or where the result would be charging both people. This is a domestic incident for sure. No need to hurt the family unit more by subjecting them to a he said/she said public event where both can be punished. Sometimes doing nothing or little is better for a situation. Fair enough.
But this leads to the second point. With Ray Rice, it happened in public. The fact that it was recorded is just one more fact that adds to the analysis… we can see what happened. But when there is an attack in public, my belief is that it is no longer a domestic abuse issue. It is a public abuse issue with the potential for witnesses. We look at the video can see Ray Rice engaging in behavior that is socially improper on every level. It is battery. It is not domestic abuse. So shame on the prosecutor who let this be reduced to a mere domestic abuse issue.
Second, Roger Goodell is in trouble and should suspend himself without pay for the rest of the season.
The talking heads who are saying that he can only react are 100% correct. He is not a leader. The first video of Ray Rice was enough to justify a several-game suspension under the same principles that have led to prior suspensions. He blew it. When the public reaction was poor, he created a new policy that was more strict. Reacting. Then when the second video was released–he had to react again. Reaction can be done by anyone. A true leader anticipates and prevents. This protects the corporate image.
As for the second video, if the NFL offices did not have it, they should have. If they did have it and he did not know about it, that is yet another example of failed leadership for either not knowing the goings-on in his office or not having the respect of his staff. And the worse case scenario is that he is embroiled in a series of lies.
Assuming that he is not lying, he has failed miserably to the detriment of the NFL’s image. Ignorance is not an excuse–Goodell once said. It applies to him. He should be the executioner of himself and suspend himself for the rest of the season without pay. If that means that someone else does his job and he gets replaced permanently, at least he acted honorably in following the same rules he laid out for others. If that someone else is merely a caretaker, then Goodell will return with humility, perhaps a changed man. And if he returns without a new approach, his end will be ugly and inevitable. But it is the only way to cleanse the issue.
Third, we are quick to blame in society, but equally quick to forgive the contrite. Ray Rice may play in the NFL again. A contrite Michael Vick is in the NFL. Ray Rice needs to forego suing the NFL, and instead concentrate on improving himself. He should do so much work on anger management and spousal relations that we have no choice but to forgive him and give him a second chance. He and his wife should someday be on the speaking circuit for these issues. If he can do any or all of this, he will carry the ball in the NFL again. He needs to give fans a reason to forgive him to allow him to return. And this dovetails with the Roger Goodell discussion above. A contrite Goodell may be able to restore his credibility and return to his position.
What do you think? Can you envision Ray Rice healing his image enough to play in the NFL again? Can Goodell salvage his own reputation?