Two no-no’s from in the NFL
By Eric Wilkins, Sports Editor
Daryl Washington. Robert Mathis. Lane Johnson. Dion Jordan. Stedman Bailey. What do all of these players have in common? Talent for sure, but in this case they’re a collection of a significantly less glamourous identifier. All of the players, along with several others in 2014, have been dealt longer suspensions than Ray Rice.
Normally, pointing out a handful of players with heavier suspensions than someone else isn’t a big deal, but Rice’s case isn’t a normal situation. Not one to be taken lightly in the least. The Baltimore running back was arrested in February for allegedly assaulting his then-fiancée (now wife), Janay Palmer. Rice later pleaded not guilty to third-degree aggravated assault and joined a pretrial intervention program. The NFL gave Rice two games.
Two games. Washington got a whole season. Mathis, Johnson, Jordan, and Bailey all got four games. What did they do to be temporarily banned from the league? Drugs and substance abuse. No physical violence. Not even a slap. It’s curious what exactly runs through the head of Roger Goodell. The message he appears to be sending is: “Cheat and we’ll nail you; commit an actual crime and you’ll sit in a corner for five minutes.”
Goodell’s words have a distinct disconnect from his actions: “We have a very firm policy that domestic violence is not acceptable in the NFL, and that there will be consequences for that. I think what’s important here is that Ray has taken responsibility for this. He’s been accountable for his actions. He recognizes he made a horrible mistake, that it is unacceptable by his standards and by our standards.”
For his part, Rice is saying all the right things: “I never planned on appealing any kind of punishment. Whether it was two games, four games, six games, eight games—I was going to own my actions and be a man about it and take whatever was given to me.” But even he has to realize how lightly he’s getting off.
On a lesser note, but still a poor action for the league’s image, Arian Foster recently delivered one of the worst media performances in some time. The Houston Texans running back answered every question posed to him, from what it was like to train at his brother’s facility in the off-season to whether his body was breaking down or not, with some variation of, “I’m just trying to be the best teammate I can be,” and the occasional, “Work hard and that kinda thing.”
It was akin to when children give their parents lip or obstinately refuse to show any kind of maturity. Foster’s tantrum did little to change the image many have of various sports stars as rich, spoiled brats. Like it or not, players have a duty to speak to the media, and through the media, the fans. Every job has aspects that won’t always be pleasant or may not be one’s favourite task, but if everything was fun and games it wouldn’t be a job, would it?