Domestic violence just got a not-so-surprising reaction from the National Football League, in its decision regarding the quasi-punishment of running back Ray Rice, an admitted abuser. The NFL decided that Rice, a member of last year’s Super Bowl winners, the Ravens, should sit out two games in the upcoming season, for his having been caught on videotape dragging his then-fiancee, unconscious after a fight with him, out of an elevator into a hotel hallway. In court, the famous Mr. Rice was allowed to enter a pretrial intervention program to avoid jail time. None of which changes the fact that the NFL, the caretaker of “America’s most popular sport,” decided that Ray Rice’s domestic violence would cost him a fine and a two-game suspension, whereas, had he been videotaped smoking a joint, he would have received an automatic four-game suspension.
By their nature, NFL players deal in violence—only they are supposed to exercise it in helmets and pads, and within the rules of their sport, and not against women or anyone else. Violence perpetrated by NFL players, unfortunately, reflects violence in society as a whole. The difference is that the NFL, as an employer and as the sport’s champion, can do something forceful about it, and has not. Nor has Rice’s coach, John Harbaugh, who stated, “I stand behind Ray. He’s a heck of a guy.”