By: Desmond Boyle, Staff Writer
The photos of Greg Hardy’s domestic violence victim released a few weeks ago were terrible, but they represent a greater issue. The domestic violence problem facing the National Football League is not new, and the league’s response has stayed the same throughout.
Before diving into the problem of lenient punishments, it should be known how willingly ignorant the NFL has been. Despite the fact that commissioner Roger Goodell knew that Ray Rice knocked out Janay Rice in that elevator, he decided that a two game suspension was a worthy punishment. Players get higher suspension for the use of performance enhancing drugs or the second violation of the league’s substance abuse policy.
Once the infamous video of that incident was released by TMZ both the Baltimore Ravens and the NFL decided to save face in the public eye by releasing and suspending Rice indefinitely. What is outrageous about these belated punishment is not only the fact that they were clearly a PR move for both organizations, but also that TMZ obtained the video with a single phone call. Both the NFL and the Ravens claimed that for months they were unable to obtain the video from the hotel.
The other major problem is something that the NFL has not addressed for decades. It is plain and simple, if you can play good on Sunday, there is a place for you on someone’s roster no matter what you’ve done in the past.
Ray Rice was coming off a year in which he put up career lows in touchdowns, yards and yards per game, except for his rookie year in which he did not start. The league made the decision to suspend Rice indefinitely, and eventually Rice was reinstated after about a year. He has yet to be signed by a team following his release from the Ravens.
Adrian Peterson is an all-pro running back and one of only six running backs in NFL history to run for 2,000 yards in NFL history. The Minnesota Vikings fended off interest from other teams to keep their pro bowl running back on their roster following his reinstatement to the NFL in February of this year.
Before being suspended for all but one game of the 2014 season, Greg Hardy had just put up two consecutive seasons with over 10 sacks. Hardy owns the Carolina Panthers record for sacks with four in a single game, and 15 in a single season. Hardy is set to make over 11 million dollars this year as part of a contract the Dallas Cowboys gladly signed him to this past offseason.
Make no mistake about it, if an NFL team thought Rice could help their team win a game this Sunday, they would sign him immediately. Even though there is no video of Peterson abusing his son, you can see the star running back’s damage online as TMZ released several photos of the four year old’s arms which were severely scarred by a tree branch his father beat him with.
The smoking gun did not come in the form of a video for the Hardy case either. The website Deadspin released photos of Hardy’s ex-girlfriends scarred and bruised body that were taken after Hardy allegedly choked her, smashed her against a bath tub and threw her on to a pile of guns.
The punishment from teams in the NFL does not depend on the severity of domestic violence or the proof of that violence, it depends on who is going to win games and make money for the owners. It’s a cliché that the NFL is a business and as long as this business continues to be the most profitable sports industry in the country, then why would the NFL’s owners change?