Fists, Lies & Videotape

My spidey senses did not perk up this morning when I turned on ESPN2 and saw that Adam Schefter was sitting at the First Take desk with Stephen A. Smith, Skip Bayless and Cari Champion. Yesterday marked the first NFL Sunday of the season so I simply thought he was there to discuss that.


Disgusted. Sickened. Sad. The first three emotions I experienced this morning as I stood, stunned watching the newly released footage of Ray Rice TKO’ing his then fiance, Janay Palmer, in an elevator. To say I was disturbed to see what I saw would be an understatement. For weeks now, the talk has been about NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell and his light penalty(a two game suspension) concerning Ray Rice. The suspension is a topic I have not written about NOT because it does not concern me but because I simply chose not to write about it. About a month ago, I addressed the Rice situation when Smith found himself in hot water for what many called was him implying that it was ok for men to hit women. Everything I said on July 30, I stand by.

However, what I do not stand by is the way the this situation has been handled. Not by the NFL, not by the Baltimore Ravens, not by Rice, not by his wife, not by the prosecutors. When Rice and his wife held their press conference, together sitting far apart, I knew something was off. The fact that two people who had been involved in a physical altercation were presenting a united front was disturbing.  If the NFL thinks I believe that TODAY is the first day they have seen the video of Rice landing his best ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson left hook on his now wife then then I must also believe that the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot are real. One of the powers that be saw that video. Maybe not Goddell but somebody. The NFL expects me to believe that they asked for all video footage but were not given the video inside the elevator but TMZ was?? We are talking about the same NFL that is one of the most powerful organizations in the world, not the country, the WORLD. Excuse me while I go watch Pinocchio’s nose grow.

What I saw take place in that elevator was enough to bring tears to my eyes. Yes, I saw a woman, who in the elevator, made contact first. I then saw a man levy a hit so hard that it knocked her out of the picture, literally. I then saw a man who, according to his non verbal language, was not overly concerned with the fact that the unconscious woman laying at his feet was the woman he had pledged all his love to the day he put a ring on her left hand. I then saw a man, not pick up but drag his soon to be wife out of the elevator and leave here laying there on a cold, hotel lobby floor as he seemed to contemplate what to do next.

None of us knows for sure what happened before they got into that elevator. We know what they said and we know what others have said. To me, it looks like a relationship that was plagued with domestic violence before hand that either no one seemed to know about or one where the issues were hidden very well. His actions upset me. A LOT. Even if she was the one that delivered the first blow, which is wrong and puts you in a position to get what you dished out, the amount of force in which he used should be enough to make anyone sick to their stomach. Assault is never ok. Domestic violence is never ok. What I saw is never ok. Oh and two wrongs do not make a right.

I have heard plenty of people say over and over that I should not be upset with the NFL because this is a social issue not an NFL issue. I often wonder out loud if they have been paying attention to the same NFL I watch. If it has nothing to do with the NFL then why does the league have policies concerning conduct, drugs and steroids. Domestic violence is a social issue that effects many affiliated with various companies and organizations including the NFL. In July, Goddell had an opportunity to set a standard when it comes to an issue that has been swept up under the rug for too long. He had a chance to issue a suspension that spoke volumes about how the governor of the NFL feels in regards to domestic violence. He had a chance to stand up for domestic violence victims, both women and men, and say this will not be tolerated in our league. Instead, he handed out a punishment that was the equivalent of what our parents used to dish out to us for missing curfew, lying or letting our friends wreck our new bike.  Shoot, in a lot of cases parents levied a stricter punishment.

If I heard right this morning, then there is a certain policy in the Collective Barganining Agreement in which Goddell could retroactively issue a stiffer punishment on Rice. Should he? I am on the fence about that one. Part of me says he should have handled it right the first time. Part of me says he should go back and hand out a longer suspension. Another part of me wants him to have to face the inferno that is headed towards him in light of the new evidence. Now that I think about it, hand out a longer suspension and face the inferno at the same time. Stand up and admit you dropped the ball. Stand up and admit you thought this would go away. Stand up and admit that the NFL is an organization that has the power to bring awareness to certain topics. Stand up and admit that you should have done more.  Stand up for victims who cannot stand up for theirselves.

Stand up for your daughters. You owe it to them.


Until next time…TOODELLS.


P.S. As I was finishing this post, I got word that the Ravens have released Rice. Does not change anything I said above.

P.P.S. Let us all take a stand and fight this issue head on. We can speak up for all victims. GIVE THEM A VOICE!!

The No Fun League??

A lot of fuss has been made regarding the National Football League(NFL). Oh, it has gotten too soft. Oh, they will not let you hit  hard anymore in games. Oh, why not just make it flag football. Earlier this week, the owners voted to ban players from using the crown(top) of their helmet as a means of making forcible contact. This rule change has been criticized by players and fans.

Look, I get it. You all know how much I love the NFL. You all know how much I love big hits but lets face it, the NFL is changing. What worked in 1970 does not work in 2013.

A few years ago, former NFL player, Dave Duerson, committed suicide with a gunshot wound to his chest. The reason he did not choose to shoot himself in the head was because he wanted his brain to be used for medical study. He wanted doctors to study his brain to see if the mood swings, erratic behavior, depression, etc were directly connected to the hits he had sustained in the NFL during his 11 year career. The news of his death and his request sent shockwaves through the sports world.

In 1994, the NFL formed the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee. The committee was established to provide additional support to teams who had players suffering from concussions as well as provide information to current and former players about the short/long terms effects of concussions. Many former players have claimed that the committee was misleading in terms of providing accurate information to players. Not happy with the committee, commissioner Roger Goddell determined in 2010 that new leadership was needed and a new direction for the committee needed to be established. The committee was renamed the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Medical Committee. Chosen to head the committee were Dr. H. Hunt Batjer and Dr. Richard G. Ellenbogen, both neurological surgeons.

Look, I get it. You want to see the NFL of old. You want players to be able to ram into each other with no consequences but lets face it, the NFL is changing. What worked then does not work now.

Many have criticized Goddell for “watering down” the game, for taking all the fun out of it. Football is a violent sport, period. No amount of rule changes and penalties will ever change that. However, we are all aware that their have been studies done that show direct correlation between football and brain deficiencies. How do you propose that issue be addressed?

Well, on one hand you have a commissioner who is trying to eliminate “unnecessary” hits. You know those kinds where the players only mission is to severely injure someone. Or those hits where the main point of impact is at the head. You know those hits. On the other hand, you have players who complain that the NFL has not done enough to prevent them from sustaining concussions or that they have not provided much assistance to those who are suffering long term effects from concussions.

Bottom line, you can not have it both ways. You can not want the commissioner to do provide more assistance without allowing the commissioner to try and make changes that may decrease the amount of assistance a player needs over time. Players can not complain that not enough is being done and then turn around and get mad when the commissioner adjusts a rule that will hopefully result in there being less head injuries. You can not have it both ways.

I like what Goddell is trying to do. I would rather the changes be made now than for some player to have to suffer tremendously in his latter years. Now I know it is not realistic to think that all these changes will guarantee that players will not suffer ill effects from playing football. However, if it can lessen the pain then I am all for it. Hey, maybe it all goes back to what is being taught. You know the fundamentals of football. Maybe we can start there. You know teaching kids how to properly tackle, run with the football, quarterback, etc. Art Rooney, President of the Pittsburgh Steelers, probably said it best in reference to the change of players not being able to make contact using the crown of your helmet as it related to fundamentals, “Jim Brown never lowered his head. It can be done.”  I agree Mr. Rooney. I agree.

Until next time….TOODELLS!!