I absolutely love the NFL. I also love redemption, and second chances. I love forgiveness, and the acknowledgment that we all make mistakes in life that hopefully won’t be used to define us. But above all of these things, I love my wife, and I can’t fathom ever getting to the place where I would violently strike her. Following my father’s lead, I’ve always felt that my greatest calling as a husband is to protect her from as much pain as is within my power.
So where does that leave me/us regarding former Ravens running back Ray Rice?
Actually, I feel pity for the man. He was a broken superstar in the press conference he gave in May with his now wife, Janay Palmer, the woman he violently struck last February. And now in the wake of his release by Baltimore and his subsequent indefinite suspension by the NFL, I have a hard time seeing how this broken man will ever be whole again.
Perhaps that’s okay. Actions have consequences, and reprehensible actions should carry proportionate penalties. And the initial two-game suspension handed down by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was almost too puny to be considered even mildly punitive.
Throughout this episode, from when the slap-on-the-wrist suspension was first announced in July, to today, where the NFL is now applauding itself for righting a wrong (albeit it’s own wrong), the commissioner has been transparently tone deaf and out of touch. Or simply he’s a leader of billionaires, which naturally lends itself to cynicism and dishonesty.
Goodell has mismanaged the entire affair from the beginning. He’s shown the world that above all else, the NFL values making sure its superstars remain on the field of play. Only when the rest of the world got to see the actual tape of what we all knew happened, did he behave otherwise.Continue reading
This summer I've been working with the London Blitz of the British American Football Association. I write their games stories and I've been providing online radio play-by-play, and this past Sunday we wrapped up the regular season. But thankfully the Blitz are good and they finished second in the South Division - the playoffs will begin on August 24th with us hosting the Lancashire Wolverines - and so my very enjoyable first year foray into the world of Brits playing American football continues.
First as a fan growing up, and then as a writer for Fox Sports, I've watched and covered a huge number of football teams from all levels of play. But there is something extra special about a team that isn't playing for a paycheck, or a scholarship, or notoriety, or the potential of any of those possibilities down the road. These men instead pay out of their own pocket to run the league. Most of their fellow countrymen know about the NFL, and many do follow a team back in The States, but very few of them are aware that there is tiered league (much like the structure of football/soccer here in England) playing right here in the U.K. And other than the diehards, friends and family members of players, and the lucky American football fan who happens upon a game, they play largely in anonymity.Continue reading