The recent weeks beginning with the release of the second Ray Rice video has revealed a National Football League which is operating on the high seas of national sports with a broken compass.
The NFL ship at times seems rudderless, but in truth its rudder works fine, it is just that NFL bosses can’t set a sensible course. Hmmm.
Ray Rice (wife beating) and Adrian Peterson (child abuse) have been en ensnared in a conflicted NFL justice system. The league and the individual teams were surprised when the media reported the incidents initially. The league and the teams went into “damage control”. How could they minimize any public affairs damage (which might translate into economic damage)?
These incidents have been a boon to supporter dedicated to end domestic violence. With a national stage, these groups have damned Rice and Peterson without necessarily any knowledge of them or the entire situation surrounding each incident.
For example, Rice married the woman he had struck and together they have given money and time to charities in the Baltimore poorer areas. Peterson was being present with his son, and as such stands in sharp contrast to too many African American fathers who are absent in the lives of their children.
The US has laws and courts to assess whether specific charges are transgressions of the law, and to meter out appropriate punishment. It certainly could be that both Rice and Peterson violated laws which should carry with it jail time. That verdict belongs in the courts, not on the playing field.
The NFL never the less has found it necessary to run a parallel “court system”. Standing before cameras, the NFL professes its abhorrence of these acts and sanctimoniously says that behavior has no place in the NFL. These players cannot be part of the NFL until they have spent some time in the penalty box (suspension, behavior treatment). Hmmm.
I wonder why the NFL trains cameras on pass receivers and line men who are poised to sack the quarterback and then replays the biggest and harshest take downs until the next week’s killer plays are ready.
American law has long held that someone is innocent until proven guilty. The NFL apparently feels it can act when the tide of public opinion might reduce the barrels of money flowing in. Proof: a comment from a advertiser. Hmmm.
Domestic violence, unfortunately, is just the tip of the ice berg. The NFL is populated with real people, many who find it difficult to leave violence to the playing field. There is also a long history of celebrity entrapment where someone seeking fame or money (or both) entraps a player in some compromising situation.
Sorting out “he said, she said” is simply not straight forward. Again, however, there are courts to settle these cases. The NFL is not needed.
At this point, it would appear
- The NFL has no internal moral compass and its apparent loss of clear cut rules on socially unacceptable or criminal behavior is no accident.
- Players are just tools of labor and expendable on a whim.
- The NFL has a low opinion of the public and demonstrates this each time it reacts to some interest group or large sponsor.
The NFL will get through this controversy and adopt a set of conduct standards which will spell out acceptable behavior. If, however, the NFL continues to adjust its conduct standards given the next politically correct group’s preferences, the NFL will lose its way and decline from the number one entertainment spot.
Whether Roger Goodell will continue as the commissioner is irrelevant. The Owners, who are a big portion of the problem, will most likely fire Goodell if there team value decreases, and not whether Goodell leads them successfully through this transition phase.
Hmmm, not much of a compass.