Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was suspended for two games by the NFL for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. The suspension was announced Thursday by the league.
In February of 2014, surveillance video captured Rice carrying his unconscious then-fiancee, now-wife, Janay Rice, from a hotel elevator in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Rice allegedly struck his fiancee unconscious before dragging her body from the elevator. Rice pleaded not guilty to assault in the third degree. In March, a grand jury indicted Rice; Rice and his fiancee married the following day. Rice settled in the case by entering a pretrial program in May, which meant he did not have to serve jail time.
Thursday’s suspension upset several NFL fans, many questioning NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s punishment.
“I think the weak suspension makes the NFL look bad,” said Todd Kruempel, a NFL fan. “He should have been suspended for the whole year.”
Agencies that assist victims of domestic abuse feel particularly disturbed.
“Think about the message that’s sending, players can say, ‘well, I can beat up my wife, fiancee or girlfriend and only get a two game suspension,” said Nicole Cisne Durbin of Family Resources in Moline.
Durbin provides helpful services to domestic violence victims through education and counseling. She said a popular business like the NFL, which notably has a high number of young males tuning in, should send a more authoritative message to it’s athletes.
“When we don’t hold athletes accountable, we’re perpetuating that we’re going to accept violence against women,” Durbin said.
According to Durbin, one in four women will be a victim of domestic violence, and on average, it takes a domestic violence victim seven to eight attempts before leaving their abuser. Durbin said victims are often reliant on their abuser, whether financially or emotionally.
According to ESPN, Rice was fined $529,411.24.
On Thursday, the NFL released the letter that Commissioner Roger Goodell sent to Rice announcing the suspension:
“As you acknowledged during our meeting, your conduct was unquestionably inconsistent with league polices and the standard of behavior required of everyone who is part of the NFL. The league is an entity that depends on integrity and in the confidence of the public and we simply cannot tolerate conduct that endangers others or reflects negatively on our game. This is particularly true with respect to domestic violence and other forms of violence against women.
You will be expected to continue to take advantage of the counseling and other professional services you identified during our meeting. As you noted, this additional assistance has been of significant benefit to you and your wife, and it should remain a part of your practice as appropriate.
I believe that you are sincere in your desire to learn from this matter and move forward toward a healthy relationship and successful career. I am now focused on your actions and expect you to demonstrate by those actions that you are prepared to fulfill those expectations.”