Even if the collective voice has gone hoarse from screaming about it since late last week, the commentary regarding the Ray Rice suspension isn't going away any time soon - nor should it when it comes to the emotions regarding domestic and relationship violence.
Once again, ESPN's Keith Olbermann has spoken about the process leading to the suspension, but this time with an exacting focus towards NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. The video below comes from last night's edition of Olbermann, where he questions the integrity of the league's investigation because Goodell met with both Rice and his now-wife, then-girlfriend Janay Palmer Rice back in June. (Deadspin spoke more on the original report of the meeting from SI's Peter King.)
Olbermann's call for Goodell to withdraw the suspension and excuse himself from any decision-making in relation to the incident does beg for a larger question: is it time for the commissioner to make changes to the policy?
Besides dealing with violence towards women - and the varied levels that have been debated on long before this week - the second-most vocal criticism that has come from this is regarding the inconsistency of discipline that stems from Goodell, the league office and the personal conduct policy.
For recreational and performance-enhancing drug use, impaired driving and anything else that could involve controlled substances, there's usually some tangible evidence thanks to drug testing administered by the league itself as well as law enforcement (breathalyzers and the like). The league can always say to an offender "you did this and here's proof." Whether one agrees with why a player is suspended for using some sort of drug or not, it's a bit easier to wade through the process of suspensions and appeals because of said proof or allowed exemptions, false positives and anything within legal and scientific reason that can aid the player. Of course, there are reasonable concerns on the levels of discipline, but the player's union did sign off on these matters when the 2012 lockout ended.
It's the seemingly murkier waters of domestic violence and sexual assaults (proven or not) where things aren't always so cut and dry, even when the police are called in. These are situations where a standard suspension can't apply, even if fans and media may clamor for a significant amount of time or games.
Of course, the anger in this case stems from the fact that millions of fans have seen the footage of Mrs. Rice being dragged out of the elevator by her now-husband. What happened before that remains unseen, but certainly none of us are stupid enough to believe that something violent didn't take place. It's safe to say that other cases that have come before the league haven't had some form of evidence become public.
None of this is to say get rid of policy outright, but there are reasons why there's an unusual amount of criticism compared to recent years. While nothing may ever come of it going forward, what kinds of changes would you make to the personal conduct policy if you were Roger Goodell?
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