The NFL has essentially said it doesn't take spousal abuse seriously. When the NFL announced that it was suspending Ray Rice for 2 games for knocking his then-fiancee out, they sent the unmistakable message that they don't take spousal abuse seriously.
Justin Blackmon just got arrested for marijuana posession for the fourth time. It's almost certain that he'll be suspended for the entire 16-game season. Josh Gordon, another wide receiver, is likely to get a 16-game suspension for illegal drug use.
Ray Rice got suspended for 2 games for knocking his wife out in a New Jersey casino.
The NFL just said that smoking pot earns a player a suspension that's 8 times as long a player who physically abuses his wife.
Ever the PR-concious enterprise, the NFL sent Adolpho Birch, the NFL V.P. of labor policy and government affairs, onto the Mike & Mike Show on ESPN to spin their suspension of Rice. It didn't go well:
“The discipline that was taken by the NFL is the only discipline that occurred with respect to Mr. Rice in this case,” Birch said. “Were he not an NFL player, I don’t know that he would have received punishment from any other source … We believe that the discipline we issued is appropriate — it’s multiple games, and hundreds of thousands of dollars. It doesn’t reflect that we condone the behavior.”
Saying that a player that punches his now-wife and knocks her out cold deserves a 2-game suspension is the most tin-eared response imaginable. The only thing that's worse than the NFL's lame spin of their wimpy suspension is New Jersey's law on domestic violence:
The 27-year-old Rice has been accepted into a diversion program, which, upon completion, could lead to the charges being expunged.
New Jersey acting as if nothing happened is more disgraceful than what the NFL did, which is almost unthinkable. It's hard to imagine behavior more disgraceful than the NFL's turning a blind eye towards spousal abuse. Frankly, the New Jersey law should be mandatory jail time and a diversion program, followed by a 5-year parole. Any violation of the parole earns the person, whether they're a sports star or a salesman at the local department store, a lengthy prison sentence.
It isn't that it's a deterrent in the traditional sense. It's that the person isn't in a position where he can't commit that crime again.
The NFL blew it with this faux suspension. New Jersey is still blowing it with its wimpy law of looking the other way. It's time for the NFL and New Jersey to get their acts together and start treating spousal abuse seriously.