The National Football League has some of the highest-paid public relations personnel in the United States. This is one of the primary reasons that it has been able to skirt some major issues in the past as it relates to how the public perceives the league.
Unfortunately for the league, the two-game suspension Ray Rice received for assaulting his now wife Janay Palmer earlier this year, has brought to light some major double standards within the NFL itself.
NFL vice president labor policy and government affairs Adolpho Birch was sent by the league to ESPN’s Mike & Mike show in order to quiet public criticism over what many consider to be a lenient suspension for Rice.
Birch, who is in charge of discipline for the league, failed to fully explain why the NFL came down so light on Rice.
The discipline that was taken by the NFL is the only discipline that occurred with respect to Mr. Rice in this case,” Birch said. “Were he not an NFL player, I don’t know that he would have received punishment from any other source … We believe that the discipline we issued is appropriate — it’s multiple games, and hundreds of thousands of dollars. It doesn’t reflect that we condone the behavior.
First off, this isn’t a reasonable conclusion to draw when it comes to the punishment of players around the league. It’s the very same argument that Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon could use in his appeal of a one-year suspension in August. You simply cannot factor into account that NFL players are held to a higher standard than the general population and then fail to hold them to that higher standard.
How is Rice’s life actually going to be impacted by this suspension? He’s going to miss two games and will be out a “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” as Birch indicated. Yeah, that’s an appropriate discipline for beating a woman up in a hotel elevator and dragging her unconscious body into the lobby.
After hearing Birch’s explanation, it doesn’t seem that the league has responded to direct criticism levied against it by a majority of those on the outside looking in.
It’s the ultimate spin game that we have been accustomed to within the political realm in Washington D.C….that is to send out a talking head to repeat the same invalid point over and over and over again in the hopes that it sticks.
And in doing so, all the NFL has showed us is that it’s really not a proponent of “protecting the shield,” which has been one of Goodell’s rallying cries over the years. Now boxed into a corner, let’s see what the powers to be in New York City decide to do. Unfortunately, this one scribe doesn’t necessarily have much confidence in Goodell and Co. taking a stand. Unless, of course, Rice is busted with marijuana sometime in the near future.
Photo: USA Today