The Real Problem of the Ray Rice Scandal

No matter where you turn this week, you can’t avoid the news of the Ray Rice scandal. From the initial video months ago, to Janay Rice coming to the defense of her husband, to the full video being released, it’s all obscene. However, what’s most unbelievable to me is how quickly the attention turned from the real issue – domestic abuse and the message sent by the NFL – to Roger Goodell’s future with the league. 

When this story first broke, I was appalled. A two game suspension for an admitted assault on a woman that resulted in her being dragged, out cold, from an elevator? Yet while this was brushed aside, multiple four game suspensions for substance abuse hit the news. Right, that makes sense, four games for using a substance, a matter that was only uncovered due to a test, but only two games for knocking a woman out and admitting to it. WHAT?

Then came the public release of the full video and all of a sudden the NFL sees this as a major issue. Because dragging an unconscious woman out of an elevator is only a minor issue…about half as bad as smoking weed. Because having a confession and a 30 second video of the aftermath wasn’t enough for a substantial suspension, but a two minute video…well that’s enough to end his career. 

I don’t buy for 1 second that the NFL didn’t see this video before this week. I don’t think anyone does at this point. Do I think that Goodell should lose his job? Absolutely. But that won’t solve anything. Not one single thing. The NFL needs a change. A big one. There is a massive female NFL fan base and with these actions, Goodell might as well have spit in our faces and knocked us out too. The NFL (as well as the rest of society) needs to take a stand against domestic violence, not because they got caught in a lie, but because it is important. Because women matter too. Even more than winning a game, some might argue. 

The severity of the issue of domestic abuse can be summed up in two words: Janay Rice. Her passionate defense of this monster is really, truly heartbreaking. Women every day suffer with getting out of abusive relationships and yet, here she is, calling the attack a mistake. Calling their relationship true love. I don’t feel anger towards Mrs. Rice. I honestly feel so, so bad for her.

So this story is about more than a suspension and a he-said-she-said about who saw the video and when. This story is about domestic abuse victims everywhere and abusers who are taught, day in and day out, that this behavior is excusable beyond a couple of games. This story is about all of the people who said she asked for it, deserved it even. It’s disgusting. This story is about Janay Rice. This story is not about Roger Goodell.

Frankly, if you think firing Roger Goodell will solve the problem, you don’t understand the problem.