NFL commissioner Roger Goodell defends Ray Rice suspension

By Luke Wiersma,
A career-defining ruling by Goodell doesn't seem to be in line with other player punishments

One of the most important things that one will learn quickly in life is that once you make a decision, especially a public one of immense magnitude, you often-times have to ride it out until the very end. Because if you don’t, backlash, credibility loss and severe criticism are likely to ensue.

It is clear that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell fully grasps this concept, as he carried it out perfectly Friday morning when he whole-heartedly backed the two-game suspension that Raven’s Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice received in response to the domestic dispute allegations against him involving his then fiancé and now wife, Janay Palmer. Below are a few examples of the Goodell quotes, provided by ESPN.com that illustrate my point:

“I take into account all of the information before I make a decision on what the discipline will be. In this case, there was no discipline by the criminal justice system."

“If it's their first offense, someone who has had a strong background of being very responsible in the community and doing the right things and not violating either policies or anything else that would reflect poorly on the NFL, then we take that into account. When there's a pattern, we also take that into account on the other side."

“You've got to deal with the facts, OK? Now, when we have a drug program that's collectively bargained, and it has a step process, it takes four incidents before you actually reach a suspension in a drug-related case. So you have to respond to facts here.”

Goodell’s defense was thorough and cohesive, but no matter what he says, it won’t be enough for some. The fact that Rice only got a two-game suspension for a night in which (God forbid) his actions were just a bit more forceful, serious bodily harm and/or permanent damage could have been inflicted upon Palmer.

Others are getting twice that length merely for their drug habits (or the naïve "mishandling" of prescriptions), is enough to keep some from changing their minds, no matter what other events emerge regarding this story. Some are even going so far as to call for his resignation, according to USA Today, including Keith Olbermann.

It will be interesting to see how the negative reactions to this punishment affect future reprimands. Two things are certain, however: Goodell, even if he is secretly regretting his ruling because of the public outcry, stuck to his guns, and, this was a defining moment in his career. It’s very unlikely that anyone will forget this verdict going forward.

image courtesy of Dara Kushner/INFphoto.com

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