It was announced today that Minnesota Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson is suspended from the NFL without pay until April of 2015. This article is not only to analyze the punishment or assess if it is fair or not; this is more about the NFL’s lack of sincere effort to address domestic violence issues within the league. Is Adrian Peterson or Roger Goodell the greater villain?
When the issue of domestic violence in the NFL rose to the surface of discussion months ago, wives, girlfriends, and the majority of football fans recognized an opportunity to seriously address a problem which has been previously concealed by NFL owners, General Managers, and coaches. It has not happened.
Domestic Violence has quietly existed for decades within the NFL until an incident in an elevator located inside an Atlantic City Casino last February placed it at the forefront of the news. Baltimore Ravens’ running back, Ray Rice, knocked out his then fiancé Janay Palmer. Video of Rice dragging her unconscious body out of the elevator was shown repeatedly by every news and sports network a few months later. Rice was arrested for assault.
A meeting finally occurred in May between Rice and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. A two game suspension was the punishment handed down by Goodell. When a subsequent surveillance tape revealed the actual punch which Ms. Palmer received from Mr. Rice, Ravens’ owner Steve Bisciotti and Commissioner Goodell denied prior knowledge of what happened inside the elevator. Bisciotti and Goodell are close friends; Bisciotti is also one of Goodell’s 32 employers. Rice’s punishment was re-evaluated; he received a lifetime ban from the NFL.
There exists a serious problem with the storyline. Rice claims that he told Goodell the entire story at their meeting in May. Whether that is fact or fiction, what did Bisciotti and Goodell think happened inside the elevator to render Ms. Palmer unconscious? It became entirely clear that domestic violence was not taken seriously by the league office and Commissioner Goodell.
To this day, November 18, 2014, Goodell has not scheduled a meeting with the leaders of the National Football League Players Association to discuss the issue and establish guidelines for ensuing punishment.
The act of an adult man beating a four-year-old child with an object is vile and unforgivable; and Peterson will pay dearly for his actions. And when it was revealed that he was smoking marijuana during his initial suspension, a substance banned by the NFL, he further damaged his hopes for leniency. However, Goodell’s decision appears to be an attempt to protect his own reputation and possibly his job.
Peterson had already completed the legal process. The court allowed him to plea down to a misdemeanor, and suspended his sentence with the requirement that he seek therapy and attend parenting classes. Added to the court order is the stipulation that further discipline would be adjudicated if he failed to show progress.
Would including the previous nine-game suspension added to the court’s decision not have been a more intelligent and just decision?
A final statement for Roger Goodell. Do the right thing. Take the opportunity to make the NFL a leader in the battle against domestic violence and sexual assault. This is your one chance to get it right. You have constantly received scrutiny and been questioned about your decisions for actions occurring on the field. You are basically in a dictatorial position, and are the one man who can lead in the fight to end violence against women and children. Just do it.
By James Turnage