The NFL Finds Itself at a Crossroads

This shot from TMZ is from the clip of Rice striking Palmer in the elevator.

As with any major incident like the one involving Ray Rice and the assault on his then-fiance Janay Palmer, there are many angles and many questions that are troubling and head-scratching. What is clear as of this writing is that Ray Rice is no longer a member of the Baltimore Ravens. He is also now under indefinite suspension from the NFL leaving his playing career in doubt.

We are where we are because yesterday, TMZ released the one video from the assault we hadn’t seen but had assumed Roger Goodell and the NFL had. It was video from inside the elevator that clearly shows Rice strike Palmer with a left hook so vicious that it propelled her into the wall of the elevator knocking her out cold. I’m not linking the video because it’s disturbing. Frankly, google ‘Ray Rice’ and you’ll find it immediately if you’ve yet to see it.

The only way I see Goodell in real trouble is if TMZ can prove the NFL has already seen the video.

By the time you read this, TMZ may have already revealed a major piece of information from this case. They reported last night that they have evidence that the NFL has in fact seen the video despite their denials. If, and this is a big ‘if,’ Goodell and the NFL are proven to have seen the video, it will be an incredible blow to any credibility that Roger Goodell has left.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet though and focus back on what happened yesterday. I find it incredibly sad that while all of us knew that Rice had assaulted Palmer, our true outrage didn’t come until we had actually seen the assault. I get it though because the video is that troubling and even imagining it doesn’t do it justice.

The social media reaction had a major impact on the decision of both the Ravens and the NFL and if anyone tells you differently they are lying. The Ravens by cutting Rice send him away with about $25 million in guaranteed money while taking a pretty big cap hit as well. Their hand was forced however and although it took this long, it was the right thing to do.

In terms of the NFL’s actions, some questions are certainly raised. First, Goodell admitted that he erred in the two-game suspension Rice originally received. Second, he then announced new penalties for domestic assault which was a move a long time coming. A first time offense earned a player a six-game suspension and a second offense would be a lifetime ban.

Therefore, why suspend Rice indefinitely? If the policy is now in place, why not use it? For a first time offender, Rice should have just been nailed for a six-game suspension. By not doing this, Goodell opens another can of worms. He suspended Rice indefinitely because of the severity of the video and perhaps even more, because of the reaction by the public.

Because of this, the can of worms I mentioned looks like this; if a player in the future abuses a woman and it isn’t caught on camera, then what’s the punishment? If a player abuses a woman on camera but it isn’t as “severe” as Rice’s punch, what kind of punishment does he get? See where I’m going with this?

As for Goodell, he’ll survive this unless TMZ truly can prove he had seen it. Even then, it may be difficult to get him to step down. Remember his job is to make money for the owners and that’s one thing he hasn’t failed at.