More revelations are seemingly coming out with each day in the Ray Rice story.
On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that someone in the NFL league office confirmed the video tape showing Rice punching his then-fiancee had arrived and been seen, giving reason to believe that Roger Goodell has seen the video footage before suspending him just two games and denying those claims in a national interview earlier this week.
The NFL has modified its disciplinary policy for domestic violence in August, announcing a six-game suspension for first-time offenders. So will that be the punishment in store for Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy?
Hardy was convicted of domestic violence in July, found guilty of assaulting and threatening his ex-girlfriend from an incident in May. His ex-girlfriend accused him of picking her up and throwing her down onto a bathroom floor, then throwing her onto a couch covered in assault weapons and shotguns.
Because he’s currently appealing that verdict in court he is allowed to play on Sundays.
Panthers ownership has opted not to discipline Hardy at all. Coach Ron Rivera has stated that the team is watching from the sidelines until the case plays itself out, while owner Jerry Richardson reiterated a firm stance against domestic violence and denied that he or his organization was being “too slow to act” in regards to Hardy.
In reality, though, Hardy’s appeal process could be delayed until after the season, so the defensive end could potentially play all 16 regular-season games before anything is resolved or a punishment is handed out — at least by the Panthers.
The Ravens stood by and allowed Goodell to hand Rice a two-game suspension until TMZ leaked the elevator footage of what happened between Rice and his fiancee, then the commissioner came down with the indefinite suspension. Doesn’t that sound eerily similar to what’s transpiring between the league, team, and Hardy?
Given what just happened, the Panthers would be wise to act — and act quickly — in regards to Hardy. What Rice did was horrific, and Hardy’s actions warrant a similar sort of punishment, if not an even more severe one because of the inclusion of deadly weapons.
The Rice incident is an unfortunate one in terms of domestic abuse that should never occurred, but because it did it should serve as a lesson — to players, teams, and the league.
Players should have never believed they could get away with these heinous crimes, but now that one of the members of their fraternity was caught, they should realize just how criminal those actions are. To say the word “abuse” or “domestic violence” has a negative connotation, obviously, but combined with the video footage of Rice makes it an even more powerful emotion.
Baltimore is a class organization, but their failure to act in response to the Rice allegations when they were just allegations should set off an alarm for Carolina. The team has already messed up by allowing Hardy to suit up Week 1 and most likely this Sunday as well. However, the team does not have to wait for the NFL to gather evidence or the legal process to play out; it can discipline Hardy now.
As for the NFL — the Rice incident could and should cost Goodell his job. I’ve wanted to give the commissioner the benefit of the doubt throughout the process, but given what seems to be an effort to protect Rice over the past few months by covering up the videotape and handing him only a two-game ban — that is just too sketchy and too deviant given his past behavior. His actions warrant punishment and perhaps termination, because that trust factor has now been eliminated.