SPORTINGNEWS.COM
SPORTINGNEWS.COM

CHATTER squareRoger Goodell must go.

Chances are you’ve seen this sentence in recent days. It is an understatement to say Goodell has received his fair share of criticism following the Ray Rice incident.

Leading national sportswriters have called for Goodell’s ouster, not to mention the National Organization for Women (NOW). It’s undeniable that Goodell messed up – big time. Ray Rice knocked his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer, unconscious and dragged her limp body from a hotel elevator.

Numerous players have received 4-game suspensions for drug-related charges in recent months. Rice received 2 games for the violent assault. Goodell messed up. But lost in the “fire Goodell” media mob however has been the culpability of a third party: the teams.

The Baltimore Ravens deserve heaps of blame – mountains of blame – for the role they played in the Ray Rice saga. Yet scarcely anyone seems willing to give it to them. In May, three months after the initial video surfaced, the Ravens hosted a press conference for Rice and Palmer. Rice apologized for “the situation” and Palmer apologized for “the role [she] played.”

The Ravens were promoting a tough stance against domestic violence, indeed. Following Rice’s discipline hearing, news outlets reported that Ravens’ owner Steve Bisciotti and GM Ozzie Newsome had used their personal relationship with the Commissioner to lobby Goodell for leniency on Rice’s suspension. Goodell may have decided on 2 games, but the Ravens actively wanted 2 games. And the court of public opinion almost solely attacks the Commissioner.

This is not meant to be a defense of Roger Goodell. The man decided on a 2-game suspension for gruesome domestic violence. But the Ravens lobbied for that suspension. The Ravens were content with that suspension. As an organization, they could have stepped up and taken a stand against domestic violence. They could have taken further disciplinary action with regard to Ray Rice.

Instead, they used the league as cover for the cowardice of their organization. Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome invoked the NFL when asked if the Ravens would take their own punitive measures: “As a league, we have a conduct policy. Being a member of the league, we will follow that A to Z.” Well done, Ozzie. The personal accountability is really overwhelming.

After the second video surfaced this month, which showed Rice hitting Palmer, the criticism of Goodell intensified as his decision looked increasingly misguided. The Ravens on the other hand capitalized on the situation. They – rightfully, although a bit late – cut Rice from the team. The Ravens (somehow) emerged from all of this above the fray. They are praised for their stiff and immediate response. Honestly, why not; as long as you forget about everything they did in the months leading up to Rice’s dismissal.

This institutional failure is not limited to the Ravens. Just this past week, the Minnesota Vikings showed us all that this is very much a league-wide problem. After Adrian Peterson was indicted on child abuse charges, the Vikings played a game without him, and then swiftly called a press conference – to announce their intention to play Peterson in the following game. After 48 hours of intense public pressure, the Vikings reversed course and barred Peterson from all team activities.

Ray Rice knocked his fiancée unconscious. The Ravens lobbied for leniency. Adrian Peterson was indicted for child abuse. The Vikings intended to play him. The teams can set the tone for values and discipline in the NFL.

But by lobbying for leniency, passing the buck entirely to the league office, and making tone-deaf decisions, teams are only aggravating these unfortunate situations. Just as it is for the players and the Commissioner, when they falter in action and judgment, the teams ought to be blamed and criticized.

The Ravens and Vikings have failed miserably in the last few months, but by all means, let’s send our outrage straight to Roger Goodell’s office.

Connor Maytnier is a sophomore in the College. Living on the Sideline appears every other Monday at thehoya.com.

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