Analyzing The NFL’s Suspension Policy

Ray Rice formerly of the Baltimore Ravens. (Photo courtesy of axs.com)

by Nick Mancuso and Mike Reistetter

In the early weeks of the 2014 football season, the NFL has had major problems with domestic violence, in particular with star players like Ray Rice and 2012 MVP Adrian Peterson. The now-released Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice had been suspended for the rest of the NFL season. But he is not the only player to be suspended this year for violating a certain policy.

According to SBNation.com, there has been over 20 NFL Players that have been suspended, ranging from as little as a one game suspension, and in Rice’s case, reaching up to an entire season ban. The problem with this, in some circles, is that there are players being suspended for the same amount, or more time, than other players who have committed worse violations.

Before the Ray Rice scandal ignited mass media coverage in the form of a virally released video of Rice abusing his then-fiancé (now wife), he was only suspended for two games. However, after the video was released to the public, the NFL subsequently suspended him for the remainder of the season. Why didn’t they suspend him for whole season before the video was released? It was still the same crime, but no one saw the actual video until TMZ reported it with confirmation from Rice via an infamous press conference apology, that he was indeed the male in the video dragging his unconscious fiancé’s body out of an elevator.

Ray Rice is suspended for a full year for abusing his wife, which can be accepted as a fair punishment; but Cleveland Browns Wide Receiver Josh Gordon is suspended for a full season because of testing positive for Cannabis during a randomized drug test by the league. The issue here, frankly, is that the NFL is not properly conducting the way in which they enforce punishments by any means.

Before the NFL saw the video, Rice was only suspended two games; Gordon got caught violating NFL substance policy and was declared “indefinitely” suspended for an entire year. It does not make any sense. Granted, illegal drug use should not be tolerated by any means. But the process in which Ray Rice’s suspension was handled, in comparison to Gordon’s, is simply outrageous.

It does not come as a surprise to most that investigations have been launched by former FBI personnel into the files of the NFL, as to who exactly is responsible and to blame for the miscommunications that led to hesitation with executing the proper suspensions towards players for their individual criminal acts and situations.

Players do have to make smarter choices and are given handlers and advisors to help steer them in the right direction, away from this negative attention. Having over 20 players on the suspended list is a huge and costly problem; the NFL must consider both a reevaluation of their suspension policy and perhaps even closer monitoring of their employees (players) during the offseason.