After arbitration, Judge Barbara S. Jones, has ruled in favor of Ray Rice and has ordered the reinstate the former Baltimore Raven running back. While the NFL and public has focused on the domestic violence issues there exist an underlying current of racism for which the NFL and the Baltimore Raven management must respond. As the country continues to heal from Michael Brown and Trayvonn Martin incidents, the NFL and the Baltimore Ravens front office has a prime opportunity to distance themselves from any accusations of racism because of the way that they dealt with Ray Rice.
While I do not condone domestic violence or any other criminal activities there seems to be a difference in how the NFL is responding to the violations of the player conduct policy when it comes to Black athletes. The disciplinary outcomes appear to be more objective than subjective. We find this evident as arbitrator Barbara Jones listed 20 prior instances of domestic violence incidents over the last seven years, in which the penalty delved out was not more than two games.
In another incident, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson agreed to a plea bargain Tuesday, reducing his felony child-abuse charges to a single charge of reckless assault, a misdemeanor that comes with a $4,000 fine and an order to perform community service. The NFL also added a punishment which banned Adrian Peterson from participating in the league. The reasoning behind the NFL’s decision appears to be more subjective than objective.
In a letter to Peterson, Roger Goodell stated: “When indicted, you acknowledged what you did but said that you would not ‘eliminate whooping my kids’ and defended your conduct in numerous published text messages to the child’s mother. These comments raise the serious concern that you do not fully appreciate the seriousness of your conduct, or even worse, that you may feel free to engage in similar conduct in the future.” It appears that the punishments set forth by the NFL are centered on the values of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and not the objective tenets of the NFL Players Union agreement on NFL player conduct. When discipline is delved out based on an individual’s personal values and objectiveness then we have an opportunity for racism and racial allegations to become prominent.
The NFL should offset the potential perceived racisms by following the following suggestions:
Reinstate Ray Rice.
It is not enough to say that Ray Rice is a free agent, the NFL must undo this horrible act of racism. Have the Baltimore Ravens resign and then trade Ray Rice to a potential super bowl team. To use the excuse that Ray Rice is a free agent paramount to Organizational Malaise. During Organizational Malaise individuals will seek to find fault within the organization rather than accept responsibility for their actions and correct their behavior accordingly. If Ray Rice does not find a team or is reinstated to the Baltimore Ravens, Goodell will blame it on the other teams not providing an opportunity for Ray Rice rather than taking the blame himself.
Reinstate Andrian Peterson.
The reason for removing Andre Peterson was more subjective reasoning than objective reasoning.
Revise the Player Code of contract with penalties that are objective and not subjected to the personal beliefs and values of the NFL front office.
Revise the Player code of contact using a bottom up process.
Instead on the NFL front office determining the consequences, allow the players the opportunity to recommend the consequences. This will make the players take responsibility for their actions and avoid such embarrassing circumstances such as the Ray Rice reinstatement.
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012
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