By John “Mugz” Muguerza / Columnist
On Aug. 7, three-time Pro Bowl running back and 2012 Super Bowl champion Ray Rice received a standing ovation in Baltimore, Maryland, from Ravens fans at M&T Bank Stadium. This gesture was not earned because he donated money to a charity, saved someone’s life or did anything spectacular for the team or community. In fact, it was the complete opposite. Rice got this praise as a show of support after being arrested in February at a New Jersey casino on domestic violence charges.
The charges alleged that Rice struck his then fiancée (now wife), Janay Palmer, so hard he knocked her unconscious. To make matters worse, video surfaced of Rice dragging Palmer out of an elevator, laying her on the floor face down, and standing over Palmer until a hotel employee came over to them. Both Rice and Palmer were arrested for simple battery. According to the BaltimoreSun.com Palmer’s charges would later be dropped, while Rice’s charges would be upgraded to a third-degree aggravated assault, a felony that carries a potential three- to five-year prison sentence. According to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, Rice and Palmer would marry the day after Rice was indicted on the felony assault charge.
ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson claimed that the marriage could actually help the case for Rice because Palmer could claim “spousal privilege” and would likely not be asked to testify against Rice. At the end of the legal process Rice would end up reaching a plea deal that would allow him to enter a pre-trail intervention program for first-time offenders and avoid trial altogether. If completed without any more arrests the incident will be cleared off his record, according to the BaltimoreSun.com.
Even after Rice went through the legal system he still had to face the wrath of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Goodell, known for his lengthy and sometimes over-the-top suspensions, has been called unfair, out of touch and even the devil by numerous NFL players. So with such a high-profile player as Rice and the overwhelming negative media coverage the incident brought most experts to believe Rice would receive a suspension ranging between four and six games. New York Post reporter Bart Hubbuck believed on June 19 that Rice would be suspended four to six games or “maybe even more.”
Instead Goodell would hand down a two-game suspension that enraged many and brought even more unwanted attention to this extremely sensitive subject. With players such as Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon suspended for one year, which includes all 16 games this season, offseason workouts and the inability to be around team facilities all for having just over the allowed limit of THC in his urine to fail a drug test for marijuana. The failed test showed a concentration of 16 ng/ml, only one nanogram per milliliter above the limit of 15, according to Mike Florio of NBC sports. According to NFL.com on Aug. 28 Goodell sent a letter to all 32 team owners admitting he made a mistake about the Rice suspension, saying, “I got it wrong.” In the letter Goodell plans on implementing a new protocol on suspensions for sexual assault and domestic violence. The first offense brings a minimum six-game suspension and a second offense will result in banishment from the NFL but an individual may petition for reinstatement after one year with no guarantee of reinstatement.
On Sept. 1, merely days after this letter was sent out, San Francisco 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald was arrested for domestic violence. If found guilty he may be the first player to be made an example of with the new rules and policy involving the stricter guidelines. Since 2000 there have been more than 75 arrest of NFL players involved in domestic violence and those are just the incidents that are reported.