Ray Rice suspension too lenient

Published Jul 30, 2014 at 6:24 am (Updated Jul 29, 2014 at 10:30 am)

As NFL teams report to training camp and the 2014 season gets underway, the league is once again in the negative spotlight. The most recent evidence of the fallout of its players, Baltimore Ravens runningback Ray Rice was convicted of domestic violence against his then girlfriend – now wife. The evidence to convict him of the crime was insurmountable – he was caught on camera dragging her unconscious out of an elevator in Atlantic City.

The punishment for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy? A mere two game suspension.

In 2010, when Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was accused of – not convicted of – sexual assault, he initially received a six-game suspension. It was later dropped to four games. Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon is facing a season-long suspension for failing a drug test for marijuana.

Let us not forget the 2006 incident in which Albert Haynesworth received a five-game suspension for stomping on Dallas Cowboys running back Julius Jones’ head during a game.

Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor sat out the first five games of his NFL career for receiving “improper benefits” during his college career at Ohio State.

And, Indianapolis Colts linebacker Robert Mathis was suspended for four games for using performance enhancing drugs.

So, the conclusions that one can draw from these punishments are: Smoking pot is really, really bad. Being accused of, but not convicted of, sexual assault is pretty bad. Stomping on someone’s head during a game is also pretty bad. Using your persona as a student athlete to get discounts at a tattoo parlor is bad. Using performance enhancing drugs is bad.

Beating your girlfriend? Eh. Not that bad.

The inconsistencies of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s punishments are terrible. Even worse is that Goodell had NFL Vice President Adolpho Birch defend the punishment on ESPN radio’s “Mike & Mike” show, calling it “appropriate.”

It’s anything but appropriate, and Goodell seems to dole out punishments based on how he’s feeling at the moment.

Goodell, and the NFL, need to have a set standard of punishments and suspensions, and it needs to be on a consistent, sliding scale of severity.

Better yet, the league needs to find players who will live up to their role model status and not break the law to begin with.

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