When the NFL came down with the decision to suspended Ravens running back Ray Rice for two games, the nation went crazy. Many, and I mean many, were outraged by the decision to ban Rice from just 1/8 of the season.
I’m a huge Ravens fan. Huge. But count me among those who finds the Ray Rice punishment woefully inadequate.
— Ryan Wagner (@rwags614) July 25, 2014
I am flat out stunned Ray Rice only got a two game ban. Goodell dropped the ball massively
— Ollie Connolly (@OllieUKEZ) July 25, 2014
The sports world seemed to have gone mad over this situation, which could be justified. After all, Rice was involved in some type of assault (we don’t really know what he did) that led to him dragging his now wife, Janay Palmer, out of an elevator, unconscious.
The great thing about sports is that it is a stepping stone for many trends we see in the world today. Children look up to professional athletes and aspire to look like them, act like them, etc. However, in Rice’s case, this idea could work against him.
As big and influential as he NFL is, it also serves as a catalyst for change in many instances. Take last year, where big ol’ Richie Incognito was accused of bullying fellow teammate Jonathan Martin to the point that he left the team. We didn’t know exactly the extent to which Incognito bullied Martin, but the fact remained that he bullied.
What happened after that?
It was an outpouring of emotion over national media and social media. Everyone had an opinion, and an NFL problem became a nation’s problem. Bullying was a hot-button issue, and this case became representative of the status of bullying in America.
Incognito became the villain, and Martin the victim, in a back-and-forth that played out for months and led to neither coming back to the Dolphins. The country took this case and made Incognito the person that no one should strive to be and Martin the person to sympathize with.
Don’t get me wrong, that’s probably how it should be. But should Incognito be the most hated player the in NFL? I’m not sure. He bullied, yes. But he didn’t commit a crime, he didn’t kill someone in a DUI and he didn’t even do drugs in this case. Incognito, though, will be forever known as “the guy who bullied the other guy.”
That brings us back to Rice, who just happens to be going through that same process. Yes, he had no prior record and actually committed a chunk of his time promoting non-violence among children. But that doesn’t matter now.
In a day where feminism is at an all time high and the status of women has risen with it, the aspect of domestic violence is a hot-button issue in the national media. So when the country sees Rice dragging his unconscious fiancee out of an elevator after an apparent altercation, there will be a fair share of backlash.
This case has the potential to represent all domestic violence, whether Rice deserves to be in the limelight for it. The suspension is not just being debated on SportsCenter; it was even on the Today show so stay-at-home mothers and fathers had the chance to see.
Rice is now a household name for all of the wrong reasons and that’s a big problem for him.
My mother-in-law, an elderly English woman, asked me about the Ray Rice suspension this evening. You’ve reached a new audience @nflcommish.
— Aaron Nagler (@AaronNagler) July 26, 2014
To a non-football enthusiast that has no knowledge of Rice’s character before this incident, he may become the villain of the NFL. Even to women who watch the NFL (which I guarantee you is a larger number than you think), Rice might become the most hated player in the NFL.
This is what happens when you play major sports and become involved in messy situations. It’s a terrible combination that might lead to irrational views. Should Rice be a villain in the NFL? Probably not. He made a huge mistake and I know he understands that.
However, he may have no choice. In cases like these, there are usually two sides: For or against. Unfortunately for Rice, the suspension may just have turned more people against him. It wasn’t his fault that the suspension was only two games, but many people don’t care.
As much as I’d feel bad for Rice if he became the next villain, I can’t. He made the mistake. He had control and lost it. Unfortunately, Rice put this on himself. I just hope he can come out stronger.