What To Do When Adulation And Money Stops
By John Ventola
Just when the-National Football League (NFL) positioned itself to expand its popularity as sports top followed league, it suffered a major reputational blow as some of professional football’s top stars came under scrutiny for their off the field actions.
First, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was initially suspended for two games by Commissioner Roger Goodell for allegedly hitting and dragging his then fiancée Janay Palmer from a casino elevator. While the length of the suspension seemed inappropriate, and the young lady later married Rice, evidence of the attack (actual
video in the elevator where the attack took place) was finally revealed after Rice had been allowed to enter a domestic violence program. The video showed Rice and Palmer arguing and spitting on each other and Rice punching Palmer in the face as she moved toward him. When shown the troubling video that clearly showed Rice knocking Palmer unconscious, the Ravens released Rice and Goodell suspended him indefinitely from the NFL.
Then Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was suspended for one game as it was reported that in May he had struck his four-year-old son with a “switch” (tiny tree branch) as a disciplinary measure, leaving cuts and welts on the youngster. The star back allegedly struck the child while he was on visitation with his father in Texas. Peterson’s one game suspension has been lifted to allow him to play in this Sunday’s game in New Orleans against the Saints.
To compound Peterson’s pending legal issues, another child of his, also four years at the time of the 2013 incident, was allegedly struck by Peterson in a similar manner, according to that child’s mother. Peterson, in a written statement, stressed he is not a child abuser, but was disciplined in this manner by his parents and relatives while growing up in Texas. Peterson fans came forth Tuesday to dispute the claim of abuse of the second child, while Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton and former Vikings great Fran Tarkenton both stated they were against Peterson being activated for action.
Greg Hardy, a defensive end for the Carolina Panthers, has been suspended by Coach Ron Rivera for one game, and was deactivated right before last week’s Detroit game, as his July conviction for assaulting and threatening his girlfriend is appealed. His appeal trial is set to begin November 17th. Hardy has been practicing with the Panthers and his team status appears in limbo at this time.
San Francisco defensive lineman Ray McDonald was arrested on domestic abuse charges August 31 but he has played the first two regular season games for the 49ers. The team basically said they would let due process play itself out in McDonald’s case. Oddly, the 49ers did take action against their game announcer Ted Robinson,
suspending him for the season’s first two games for comments he made about the Ray Rice scenario and how Palmer should take some of the responsibility for the incident.
The cases of both Peterson and Hardy are now under NFL legal review. While both were deactivated (and paid) by their teams last week, their playing status can be a day to day call by their respective teams. As of now, Peterson is set to play Sunday and Hardy is practicing daily while awaiting a decision by the Panthers.
While four players is a very small sampling when one considers there are approximately 1,900 NFL players (53 players on a roster and 46 of those active for any one game, per 32 franchises plus developmental and disabled list players), the fact that the grievances are so offensive is alarming. Periodically, often on back pages, fans see other short stories outlining drug, assault, or similar charges against some of the league players. The game of football is physical, but when a player’s aggressive mindset carries over to involve rage against women and children, then the game and its participants need to be looked at with sharper vision. Sadly, some athletes have been sheltered from consequences and responsibility as their athletic prowess caused high school and college coaches and administrators, to look the other way, or temporarily put their blinders on in possible teaching or human education situations.. Is it really all about the almighty W? Are questionable decisions made to protect eligibility, or to sweep unacceptable behavior under the rug? You bet. Should not happen, but it does—consistently.