Scandal exposes abhorrent behavior by both Rice and Goodell

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By Michael Frangomichalos, The Flyer Staff

Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice finally got a punishment he deserved.

I was amazed when I first saw that the NFL had only suspended him for two games without pay after video surfaced in February 2014 of him dragging his unconscious then-fiancee Janay Palmer from a hotel elevator in Atlantic City. The NFL called it a violation of league rules for personal conduct.

If it had been up to me, I would have given Rice, at the very least, a six-game suspension at that point.

But shortly after the second elevator tape was released in September — this one showing Rice slugging Palmer and knocking her out cold in the elevator, the NFL increased Rice’s punishment to an indefinite suspension without pay. This also led the Baltimore Ravens to terminate his contract.

In addition, Rice quickly lost almost all of his endorsement contracts, including those from Nike and EA Sports. This means another $1.6 million annually gone from Rice’s pockets.

Was this too harsh? No, but I think NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell shouldn’t have indefinitely suspended Rice. If he had been given an 8- or 9-game suspension, which I think is fair, he would still be a part of the Baltimore Ravens. The only reason his contract was terminated by the Ravens in the first place was because there would be no logical reason to pay Rice while he is suspended.

Currently, Rice is appealing his suspension from the NFL, and he could return to the league if the arbitrator rules in his favor. If Rice is able to return this season, another team in need of a running back will probably sign him — perhaps the New England Patriots or even the Minnesota Vikings, if Adrian Peterson isn’t back soon.

The sad truth for most NFL fans is that Goodell probably isn’t going anywhere. I don’t see a man who’s making around $40 million per year stepping down from his NFL throne.”

Whatever the outcome, I feel Goodell has handled the case unprofessionally. The Associated Press reported that an unnamed law enforcement official said the tape of Rice inside the elevator was sent to the league’s office in April, and I think Goodell lied about not having received the videotape. And neither of the punishments he’s handed down to Rice were suitable.

In one of the two next off-seasons, I hope for Goodell to step down as commissioner of the NFL because of his lack of credibility and trustworthiness among both fans and players.

And while I’m on a rant, let me also condemn the alternatives Goodell has offered to the league to prevent more head-to-head collisions, like eliminating kick-offs altogether. That would change the game dramatically and barely reduce the number of injuries. Goodell might as well suggest that every player be forced to wear bubble-wrap before taking the field.

But the sad truth for most NFL fans is that Goodell probably isn’t going anywhere. There’s a possibility of him resigning, but I just can’t see it happening. I don’t see a man who’s making around $40 million per year, and who recently signed a contract extension lasting until March 2019, stepping down from his NFL throne.

If Goodell were to step down, I think a great candidate for commissioner of the NFL would be Condoleezza Rice. In 2002, Rice said in an interview that being NFL commissioner is her dream job. She has had a deep passion for football her entire life, and is a great public speaker and leader. Oh, and she was the 66th U.S. Secretary of State. Even though she doesn’t have any experience working with the NFL, she would definitely manage the league better than Goodell.

As for Ray Rice, I think he should be allowed to return to the league after his suspension is up. The NFL has moved in the right direction, putting a new domestic violence policy in place, but I still think Rice deserves a second chance. What Rice did was completely uncalled for, but it wasn’t severe enough for him to never return to the league.

When healthy, Rice is one of the top running backs in the league, and he has explosive power out of the backfield. He has the ability to change an offense dramatically, and can provide the spark teams need to efficiently score points.

I’d love to see Rice return to the NFL after his suspension is over. But for now, nobody knows for sure when that could be.