The NFL oh-so carefully has allowed word to leak out that it plans to get tougher on players who commit acts of domestic violence in the wake of the backlash of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice's suspension.
The Washington Post, citing league sources, said the NFL is looking to toughen player bans for as much as a yearlong suspension for a second offense. A first offense could garner a suspension in the range of four to six games, according to Mark Maske's report.
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Rice's abuse case and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's perceptibly light sentence — a two-game suspension — has caused some uproar in league circles, as well as from fans and media members. The message, they have said, is that the league has taken a lenient stance towards physical abuse.
“We need to have stricter penalties,” one person told Maske of the NFL's discussions on the matter. “I think you will see that. I believe the commissioner and others would like to see stricter penalties. We need to be more vigilant.”
That's classic NFL, isn't it? There's vocal opposition to an issue, and quietly — through leaked sources — the league lets it be known that changes are in store. Savvy PR folks they employ there. At least they are open to some change and listening to some of the outrage.
Nothing like slamming that barn door shut after the first flock has gotten out. Goodell had defended the discipline process and the sentencing on Rice, citing league precedents on past cases. It appears he and the league officials in charge of disciplinary matters are seeing things differently now.
Fair or not, apples to kumquats notwithstanding, observers comparing Rice's discipline and those of marijuana offenders and recreational-drug takers are having a field day with the apparent lack of justice. Heck, Terrelle Pryor once was docked five games for a violation he committed while still under the NCAA's umbrella ... in a tattoo scandal! By that comp, at the very least, Rice skated.
“A lot of us were disturbed by what we saw [in the Rice case]," the source told the Post. “I think you will see something in probably the next few weeks. A first offense could be four to six games, definitely more than two. A second offense might be a year.”
Rice was indicted on a third-degree aggravated assault charge for striking his then fiancée, now wife, Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City casino in February. He since has apologized and taken full responsibility for his actions. Rice will miss the Ravens' first two games of the season, against the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsbugh Steelers. He'll be eligible to return to the Ravens' active roster prior to their Week 3 game against the Cleveland Browns.
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