NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has never been one to shy away from making controversial decisions and did so once again with his suspension of Ray Rice.
As controversial as his decison to ban the Baltimore Ravens running back for two games his defense of the suspension has become even more of an issue.
The problem that the general public has had with it is the disparity between the punishment being levied against Rice versus what Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon is facing. Rice is out two games for assaulting his wife; Gordon is facing a full season due to a failed drug test.
According to Goodell the punishments are warranted since they are consistant with the collective bargaining agreement (via Cleveland.com):
“You have to deal with the facts. We have a drug program that is collectively bargained and it has a step process. It takes four incidents before you actually reach a suspension in a drug-related case. You have to respond to facts here.”
While he does have an argument there what is questionable is his defense of Rice:
“He recognizes he made a horrible mistake, that it is unacceptable, by his standards and by our standards. And he’s got to work to re-establish himself. The criminal justice system, as you know, put him in a diversionary program with no discipline, and we felt it was appropriate to have discipline, and to continue counseling programs and to continue our education work.
“And I was also very impressed with Ray in the sense that Ray not only is accepting this issue, and saying how it was wrong, but he’s saying ‘I want to make a powerful difference in this area.’ I think you heard from him yesterday. He is a young man that really understands the mistake he made and he is out and about and determined to make a positive difference.”
It’s been rumored that the testimony Rice’s wife impacted Goodell’s decison, and it would seem that is indeed the case. From his comments it also sounded as if he was admitting the NFL may not have had all the information it needed to make a proper decision.
What he said in the end shows that the real issue at hand is the policy–or lack thereof.
“We have to remain consistent,” said Goodell. “We can’t just make up the discipline, it has to be consistent with other cases, and it was in this manner.”[Cleveland.com]