Op-Ed: 'Furor' in NFL over domestic violence is pathetic

Posted Sep 15, 2014 by Nathan Salant
So much is wrong with what has happened and is happening in the National Football League regarding domestic violence, it's hard to know where to begin to discuss the matter.
Suspended Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice is seen in a photo from 2009.
Suspended Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice is seen in a photo from 2009.
Wallstreethotrod / Wikimedia Commons
By now, everyone has heard about how Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocked out his then-girlfriend, Janay Palmer, with a punch in a hotel elevator in Atlantic City's now-closed Revel casino in February.
Hotel-camera videos of the incident were horrific enough to force the NFL to suspend Rice indefinitely after Commissioner Roger Goodell initially set a two-game suspension as punishment.
But questions quickly arose about whether the Goodell had actually seen, or should have seen, the video of the knockout punch before assessing the penalty, and the commissioner's continued employment is now in question.
That video came to light after it was released by the celebrity gossip website.
But Goodell certainly had already seen the original hotel-provided video showing Rice dragging an unconscious Palmer out of that elevator and into a hallway.
Both Rice and Palmer were arrested, and the couple has since married.
Troubling? Sure, but that's far from the only problems here.
It turns out that the NFL did not even have a policy on how to treat players convicted of domestic violence until August, six months after the Rice/Palmer fight in the casino elevator.
Mere coincidence? Not likely.
Rather, it would seem logical that the league formulated its policy precisely because the Rice incident was so ugly that it had nothing more to gain by denying there was a problem to be addressed.
Also, the NFL could possibly have been on the hook for negligence for failing to take action on an issue that society found important even if the league did not, 85 player arrests for domestic violence since 2000 notwithstanding.
Of course, such a negligence determination could only come from a lawsuit, and the only lawsuit that seems possible here is one from Rice himself over his terminated $35 million contract.
Palmer does not seem likely to go the lawyer route, even though she was the only person physically injured in the altercation — not after she came out in support of Rice and blamed the media for the couple's problems.
And what happens when Rice applies for reinstatement to the league, almost a certainty given the size of his contract, and gets reactivated, also a certainty given his prodigious abilities as a football player?
That question will be a decision for the commissioner, whomever that will be in the future.
It's not going to be Goodell, who compounded the NFL's problem by either not knowing or lying about what was going on in his league.
Rather than helping to resolve the situation, Goodell has added a credibility problem to go with everything else that's been going wrong.
Lack of credibility and major league football do not go together.
Anybody remember the World Football League?