As the NFL continues to hand out punishments to players for off-the-field offenses, the debate on the consistency of their disciplinary measures is growing, and more players are starting to join in on the conversation.
In February earlier this year, a video was released of former Ravens running-back Ray Rice dragging his unconscious then-fiance out of an elevator at an Atlanta Casino. After the video was seen by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, the Ravens coaching staff and the public, Rice was given a “harsh” two game suspension and received lots of backlash from around the league.
After the NFL brought the hammer down on Rice, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon was also suspended for an entire season after he tested positive for marijuana in the offseason. That was later reduced to 10 games once the NFL implemented a new drug policy in the wake of Gordon’s crime.
Current and past NFL players expressed their opinions on both players via Twitter after Rices’ suspension was announced.
Former NFL center LeCharles Bentley expressed through a tweet on Sept. 8 that he thinks Ray Rice should be in jail, and showed disapproval toward the original lenient suspension of two games. He also mentioned in the tweet that he would rather have Josh Gordon on his team, who was suspended for the season for failing a marijuana drug test, than a guy like Ray Rice who was accused of domestic violence.
Ray Rice was eventually given an indefinite suspension and cut from the Ravens when the footage of Rice actually striking his girlfriend was released by TMZ.
Terrence Knighton of the Denver Broncos also expressed his opinion of the punishment given to Ray Rice through Twitter.
“That man should be thrown out the the NFL and thrown into jail. Shame on those deciding his punishment. Smh,” tweeted Knighton, going on to say that if there is a way to open the case back up it should be done.
Other instances of inconsistent punishments in the NFL include when Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was accused of sexual assault in 2010 in Georgia by an unnamed woman. The NFL gave him a six-game suspension, which would eventually be brought down to four games after he convinced Roger Goodell that he had turned his life around, reported USA Today.
Terrelle Pryor, who played for the Ohio State Buckeyes and was involved in an autograph-for-money scheme, had a suspension from college carried over into the NFL. He was given a five game suspension as a result and rather than serve that his senior year, he opted out and entered the draft.
Roger Goodell took the college punishment and transferred it over to the NFL; he did not want people thinking they could hide behind his league to get out of punishments.
Junior Dominico Vano, a color commentator for RLA-TV football game productions, feels the punishments for rules broken in the NFL do not match the act committed.
“I think they [the NFL] should be more consistent in their punishments,” said Vano.
As a result of the harsh criticism the NFL has received since Ray Rices’ suspension, the NFL has now implemented a new domestic violence policy, a six game suspension for the first offense and a lifetime ban for the second offense.