The Opinionated Spectator…The NFL didn’t get it right

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Have you had the opportunity to hear about the recent NFL personal conduct policy that Roger Goodell implemented?  The policy includes all NFL league and team personnel in addition to all players. There is a great deal involved in the policy but let’s focus on domestic violence. There is a mandatory six-game suspension without pay for a first time domestic violence offense, or at least 37.5 percent of a 16-game season. A second offense results in banishment from the league, with the possibility to petition for reinstatement after a year. In other words, a person can get a lifetime ban from the league with a second offense, if not granted reinstatement.

I did not like the NFL personal conduct policy before the recent changes. And now that the changes have been implemented, I still don’t like the policy.

The changes are a reaction to the Baltimore Raven’s Ray Rice incident. He and his then-fiance /now-wife got into a physical altercation. They said some things, she spit on him and hit him, Ray hit her back and it was so hard, she was knocked unconscious. Some of the altercation was caught on camera. The footage was unsettling as Rice can be seen dragging his unconscious partner on the ground. After watching the Ray Rice incident online, I was appalled. After considering the totality of the circumstances, Goodell suspended Ray Rice for two games. The public was justifiability outraged at the ridiculously soft punishment. Two games! That’s utterly preposterous.

Ray Rice, Janay Rice

In this May 23, 2014, file photo, Janay Rice, left, looks on as her husband, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, speaks to the media during an news conference in Owings Mills, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

Goodell referenced the Ray Rice incident when he stated, “…in response to a recent incident of domestic violence… My disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment, and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families. I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I didn’t get it right.”

Goodell is correct that he was instrumental in giving a gross miscarriage of justice, however, now he is trying to overcompensate. The NFL has gone from one extreme to another.

I am a female. I am strongly against domestic violence but I am also fully aware of how these new policy changes can and will be abused. It gives people who target athletes serious ammunition, it can affect the outcome of the NFL season by potentially sidelining any player or coach, and finally, it boasts of training athletes and personnel but it does not provide any immediate mandatory training.

NFL players are already targets and the NFL has managed to give the people that target them even more ammunition. Many people try to get NFL players and athletes in general to pay them. For example, people have claimed athletes’ have sexually assaulted them or that they are the father of their children, when neither is the case. They will simply try to conjure up enough negative publicity or file lawsuits against athletes so that the athlete will pay them off to go quietly into the night.

However, with these policy changes there are so many scenarios that are commonplace where the players could potentially be victims themselves. Do you honestly think that every person that calls the authorities and claims domestic violence is going to be telling the truth?  In the heat of the moment, people may simply try to hurt a player or coach and what better way to make headlines than to have a player or coach’s name brought up on a domestic violence charge.

In a world where we are so progressive that the St. Louis Rams drafted the first openly homosexual onto the playing field, we as a nation are still backward. Especially, with our athletes. And nobody is going to talk about it. The new rules in the code of conduct policy do not account for an athlete or an NFL personnel who uses self-defense in a domestic situation.

What about the female who attacks the male and the male fends her off? Let’s say that she has heard that he was cheating on her. She has some bruises, marks or scratches on her and can display these war wounds to the police. Then what? The player or coach is automatically put into a world where his career is in jeopardy. He is frontline news. It’s unfair. Plus, think of the ridicule that he is going to get if he were to tell the truth and say that she attacked him.

A dishonest person can get anybody suspended and the whole team’s season can be affected. It’s ridiculous. The way that the conduct policy is set up, they will look to see how the legal battles are taken into account which means that the players could be affected toward the end of the season. So, a team could lose a potential star because someone in a relationship wanted to be vindictive and dishonest.

Additionally, the policy takes into account previous behavior of before the individual were connected to the NFL. And that might be one of the greatest injustices. Roger Goodell should not get to reach back to anybody’s college days to determine his punishment for a new incident?  That is unfair and unreasonable.  Why should a player who has been in the NFL for years or a coach who has been coaching for decades be punished because of something that happened back when he was a freshman in college? It empowers females to lie and makes NFL players and personnel to live in fear.

I understand where Goodell was coming from when he instituted this policy change. He had good intentions but the policy leaves much to be desired. Right now, men will be penalized on behaviors effective immediately when they haven’t been given any type of serious or intense domestic violence training.

In a sport where men are so prevalent, Goodell just changed the gender influence of the game. Males coach the players. Males call the plays. Males referee the game.  Males play the game. But the NFL has just put in place a policy where a female can make allegations and affect the personnel of any team. So, in reality males play the game but females have the power to determine the outcome.

(Source for this article is NFL.com)

Alexis Sara Cobb may be reached at:  alexiscobb@ascexec.com or (724) 561-8082  Follow her on Twitter: @alexissara

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