Tag Archives: NFL

A Culture of Violence is Alive and Well in the NFL

Ray Rice during the  Baltimore Ravens training camp. Creative Commons photo by Keith Allison
Ray Rice during the Baltimore Ravens training camp. Photo under Creative Commons by Keith Allison

Janay Rice was a victim of domestic violence. As individuals who have never had to walk in the shoes of a victim of abuse, we do not know how to accept that she could endure such treatment, even once, and stay. But as the wave of stories have flooded the Internet with the hashtag #WhyIStayed, it has become more clear why women and men from every walk of life do stay.

Janay Rice does not owe us anything. Why she made the choice to follow through with marrying Ray Rice, to openly place blame on herself for the attack, and to defend him now, no one knows but her. What we do know is that there is clear evidence of what Ray Rice did: he spit in her face, knocked her down to the ground, and dragged her on the floor. Janay does not owe us anything, but the NFL owes it to women and society as a whole to allow no tolerance to abuse.

This week , the Baltimore Ravens released Ray Rice from the team, and the NFL suspended him from the league. They should have done this seven months ago when the first video documenting the abuse  was released. Now, these decisions have caused more confusion than clarity.

The first video, leaked by TMZ in February, shows the Baltimore Ravens running back drop his then-fianceé’s lifeless body to the ground; the elevator doors hitting against her motionless legs, Rice pushes at her body. The second video, leaked on Monday, September 8th, reveals the full extent of the violence that took place.  For the NFL to not exhaust all of its resources to confirm exactly what happened in that elevator was disregard to all victims of abuse.

Just two years ago, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell promised to make changes to the league’s policies dealing with domestic violence after a chain of such incidents arose. After acknowledging from the original evidence that the twenty-seven-year-old committed domestic violence, he concluded on July twenty-fourth that a fair punishment was a two-game suspension. The moment the NFL made that decision, they confirmed every accusation that they do not give a shit about women or victims of abuse.

All that this recent video did was show everyone, in detail, what they already knew. Goodell, Ravens coach John Harbaugh, and owner Steve Bisciotti claim that further repercussions were not made because no one in the organization had seen this video before it went viral – this is unacceptable.

Rice was charged with third-degree aggravated assault and indicted by a grand jury. Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain said in a statement that his office approved Rice’s request for New Jersey’s pretrial intervention program, allowing him to avoid any jailtime. This led to the NFL’s “halt of fact-finding,” according to Goodell. The video was out there, TMZ got their hands on it, and if no one affiliated with the Ravens, Goodell, or the NFL had seen the video, they chose not to.

The Ravens made an immediate decision to release Rice after seeing the entire surveillance footage, and the NFL followed by suspending him indefinitely. Goodell stated the same day that it is possible that Rice could someday return to the NFL.

The fact of the matter is that twenty-one of the thirty-two NFL teams employed a player with a domestic or sexual violence charge on their record last year, according to statistics from U-T San Diego. Ray McDonald, defensive tackle for the San Francisco 49ers, was arrested for alleged domestic violence just two weeks ago and played during the team’s first game of the season on Sunday.

Regardless if Rice ends up being suspended permanently, this will not change the history or future of domestic violence in the NFL. The league instated its new Personal Conduct Policy last week, before the new evidence of Rice was revealed. Under the new penalties, domestic violence or sexual assault violations will merit a six-game suspension for a first-time offense and an indefinite suspension of at least one year for a second offense.

This is bullshit, and it has got to change. Violence is not justified by paying fines or sitting on the sidelines. Physical abuse is serious and real and it needs to be treated that way. The NFL is a massive and influential organization and until they drastically change their policies surrounding such conduct, they are fully condoning domestic violence.

Party Poopin’ Pigskin

Photo by AFN- Pacific Hawaii News Bureau
Photo by AFN- Pacific Hawaii News Bureau


The NFL has finally put their foot down after years of watching players like Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens party like its 1999 in the end zone.

The NFL has cracked down on taunting this season with the reinforcement of several rules that will essentially prohibit players from celebrating anywhere outside of the end zone—and even there their options are limited.

Good riddance! Why players felt compelled to taunt their NFL brethren in the first place is beyond me. Men have feelings. Just because some men are oversized juggernauts that get paid large sums of money to play a sport doesn’t make them inhuman.

Do they not bleed? Are they incapable of weeping like the rest of us!?

Bravo Commissioner Goodell. It’s good to know that amongst the plethora of problems facing the NFL at the moment—PED testing, player safety, concussion lawsuits, expanded seasons, etc.—that the league has still found time to address this very pressing issue.

The rule outlines what will be penalized, and includes “sack dances, home run swing, incredible hulk; spiking the ball; throwing or shoving the ball; pointing; pointing the ball; verbal taunting; military salute; standing over an opponent [prolonged and with provocation]; or dancing.”

Wait a tick, did it say dancing? Dancing, as in one of the few things left in the world synonymous with happiness?! Does that mean I may never see something like this again on a football field?

 

 

Well, not exactly. The rule actually prohibits players from doing any of the aforementioned celebrations towards an opponent. As such, players are free to celebrate within the confines of the rules so long as they’re not trying to antagonize the opposition.

It was just seven years ago that the league first banned props and group celebrations, as well as the “throat slash; machine-gun salute; sexually-suggestive gestures; prolonged gyrations; or stomping on a team logo.”

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Doesn’t this rob the NFL of some much-needed entertainment and—dare I say it—fun?

“It’s bad for the game,” says football fan and bar hopper Alex Robershotte as he takes a break from the delicious Cheesestake and Sunday Night Football game ahead of him. “I think it’s a natural reaction to celebrate. If you succeed at what you’re trying to do, and you have to be held back from celebrating from that, I think that’s absolutely absurd. And when you’re an athlete who’s amped up on adrenaline, you’re gonna go all out in your celebrations.”

For shame. Are we forgetting about those most affected by the celebrations? Lest we forget that the NFL is not the WWE. Players get paid a lot of money to perform their duties to the best of their abilities and shouldn’t be subjected to such public humiliation as this when they get burned on a fly route:

 

On the other hand, maybe everyone should just chill the fuck out and put everything into perspective.

 

Football is an inherently emotional sport played by some of the most competitive athletes in the world. Naturally, they’re going to do whatever it takes to gain a competitive edge. That includes getting inside the head of their opponent.

Sack and touchdown celebrations add a layer of untapped entertainment to the league. Guys like Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson were watched not only for their remarkable talent, but because you never knew exactly what they were going to do when they found the end zone. One thing you could always be assured of though was that it would be fun to watch.

The days of watching an NFL lineman breakdance, a quarterback moonwalk, or a wide receiver make untimely phone calls from beside the pylons are in the rear-view mirror now. All that’s left to look forward to is this:

 

 

“The rule is kind of ridiculous,” says San Francisco State student Jeff Palin. “I don’t think the celebrations were really hurting anyone. And I’m not sure why the league even felt that it needed to take action.”

The reasons behind the crackdowns are unclear. Perhaps the rule was instituted to protect the NFL image. Maybe its purpose is to keep angry players from inciting a brawl. It’s possible the league was fed up with diva wide receivers disrupting the flow of the game and shifting the focus from the competition to some over-the-top spectacle.

Maybe it was a combination of all three.

Regardless, fans are left wondering if the rules are even necessary.

“You don’t really see anything exciting anymore when someone scores a touchdown,” says San Francisco State student Andrew Newlee. “Some of those celebrations were hilarious. So yeah, I kind of miss them.”

At the end of the day, football—despite being a multi-billion dollar industry—is just a game.  Someone ought to remind the Commish about that, because at the moment he’s robbing the league of some free and much-desired entertainment, and appears petty in the process.

For example during the preseason, the Jets third-string quarterback Matt Simms simulated that he was firing a pistol, and the NFL fined him $7,875 for the infraction.

For starters, how did the league come up with such a puzzling and specific fine; and secondly, did the crime really fit the punishment?

These rules are hurting the sport, and compelling fans to deem the NFL the No Fun League.

The celebrations are amusing. The only people they’re hurting are those being taunted. If they don’t like it, then they should get better at their jobs. Until then, they should bite their lip and set a good example for the kids watching.

I’m not advocating malicious taunting. Watching someone viciously sack a quarterback, stand over him and talk shit is never a welcomed sight. But something as simple and harmless as this (which was fined $10,000!) should never be penalized.

 

 

So think it over, Goodell. I know you care about the players (or at least that’s what you like to let on), but don’t go overboard here. Loosen up and just let everyone be themselves. Until then, here’s a little something for old time’s sake.