For those obsessing with Ray Rice and the punishment handed down by National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell after viewing Rice punching out his finance, you are missing the big picture. The NFL has tolerated domestic violence under at least three commissioners.
In a sense the NFL is lucky that the media hasn’t given too much attention to domestic violence as an issue. There are two active players, Carolina’s Greg Hardy and San Francisco’s Ray McDonald who are facing court dates for domestic violence. Minnesota dumped A. J. Jefferson last November after he was charged with domestic violence. In 2000, something happened in Rod Smith’s relationship with his common law wife. Smith was ordered to domestic violence counseling after the charge was reduced and NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue fined him $25,000. Today, Smith is a member of the Denver Broncos Ring of Honor.
Brandon Marshall is still playing in the NFL despite a history of domestic dispute charges which have never stuck.
During Tagliabue’s tenure as Commissioner, two high profile University of Nebraska players, Lawrence Phillips and Christian Peter entered the NFL despite histories of violence against women. Peter was taken by the New England Patriots but was dropped after the Myra Kraft, the wife of the owner Robert Kraft, told her husband to get rid of Peter. Christian Peter played six years in the NFL. Phillips assaulted a woman in college and got NFL looks. Today Phillips is serving a jail term for among other crimes assaulting a girlfriend long after he was out of the NFL.
Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon was accused of domestic violence but a jury acquitted him because his wife would not testify against him. Tagliabue did nothing. Moon continued playing with Minnesota.
But wife beating is not just an NFL problem, throughout sports there have been arrests for girlfriend and wife beatings. In one sense, zeroing in on Rice and Goodell may bring the issue to the forefront but the message in sports is you have to win and you don’t do that with altar boys. Ray Rice is just another player with an assault record, but his assault was caught on tape and that’s why people are all of a sudden concerned until the next kickoff.
This article was republished with permission from Evan Weiner. The original article was published in Sports Talk Florida and can be viewed by clicking here.