It's High Time the NFL got Some Perspective
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It's High Time the NFL got Some Perspective

A four-game suspension says more than you think.

It's High Time the NFL got Some Perspective
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On July 10, the NFL reduced Cowboy Defensive End Greg Hardy’s suspension for domestic abuse of his now ex-girlfriend from 10 games to four. Four games, which is the equivalent of Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady’s suspension for deflated footballs in last year’s AFC Championship Game against the Colts.

The NFL has been criticized in the past for their chosen punishments of players who violate the Personal Conduct Policy. It was for this reason that the NFL toughened these penalties last year. However, the question is still raised as to why a player who was arrested for domestic abuse would receive the same game-suspension as a player who might have deflated footballs, or at least known it was happening.

The reasoning behind this is that the two acts in question are outlined under different NFL guidelines or policies. While Hardy is being punished under the Personal Conduct Policy (as was Adrian Peterson for child abuse and Ray Rice for domestic abuse), Brady and the Patriots are being punished under the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA).

Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner, appointed Harold Henderson, a former NFL labor executive, to hear Hardy’s appeal. In a statement to CBS, Henderson said that, “10 games is simply too much…of an increase over prior cases without notice such as was done last year, when the ‘baseline’ for discipline in domestic violence or sexual assault cases was announced as a six-game suspension.” There is also talk of Hardy’s suspension possibly being reduced further.

The domestic abuse in question happened prior to the new rules being put in place, which means the NFL can’t punish Hardy under the new policy without, potentially, facing a legal battle. The new discipline is suspension through six games. I understand reducing from 10 because, technically and legally speaking, the NFL would lose in court with the 10-game suspension.

But looking at suspensions under the previous policy, the NFL has more room to work with than one might think. Ray Rice was given two games for beating his wife unconscious. In 2011, Green Bay Packer Cedric Benson was given a three-game suspension for a misdemeanor assault charge, which was his second in two years. Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger was given a six-game suspension in 2010 for a sexual assault charge that never went to court. It was his second sexual assault accusation in two years, and his suspension was later reduced to four games.

Until the most recent change to the Personal Conduct Policy, the NFL has had no clear precedent for abuse and assault charges. So why reduce Hardy’s suspension so drastically? Since there was no clear standard before the new policy, the NFL is by no means required to reduce Hardy’s suspension to less than six games. But now that they have, why is the NFL even considering reducing the suspension further?

By giving Hardy an equal suspension to Brady’s four games, Henderson, and by extension, Goodell and the NFL, has leveled domestic abuse as equal to being “at least generally aware of” knowing about deflated footballs.

While I understand why the NFL has leveled seemingly equal punishments against two players who committed completely different crimes, I think they need to take a moment to reevaluate their situation.

As one of the biggest professional sports leagues in the country, the NFL tries to present itself in a morally positive light. There are always going to be people who disagree - that’s how things work. And on some level, I can understand how the NFL has backed themselves into the corner of having these two suspensions being quantitatively equal when they are, in no way, qualitatively the same. But the NFL needs to take a step back and look at what this says to people outside of the NFL. Putting these two offenses on the same level, even unintentionally, sends a message that the NFL does not take domestic abuse seriously, or that beating a woman is, in any way, equal to deflating a football.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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