Sadly, Rice was only given community service and no jail time. An average person charged with such crimes would have had to face much harsher punishment. To compound this outrage, the NFL issued a very weak initial punishment. It was a mere two games suspension, a slap on the wrist. NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell later admitted that he made a mistake and the penalty for an initial charge of domestic violence has been increased to six games. The new penalty is still too lenient as such violence should not be tolerated in any way.
The new elevator video shows Ray Rice striking Palmer with tremendous force. She is knocked to the side and hits her head on the elevator railing before falling to the floor. It is a shocking display of extreme violence by a strong running back taking advantage of a lighter and weaker woman.
Sadly, this type of violence is nothing new for the NFL. Former Saints player Will Smith was given a slap on the wrist for public intoxication and domestic abuse battery charges. He performed community service, but no jail time after being arrested in Lafayette.
Presumably, since there was no video in the Will Smith case, it did not make much news. It was swept under the rug as is the case with at least three active players in the NFL who are facing pending domestic violence charges. None of the players, Greg Hardy of the Charlotte Panthers, Ray McDonald of the San Francisco 49ers and Quincy Enumwa of the New York Jets, have been suspended. With the public outrage regarding Ray Rice, these players will hopefully face some sort of league discipline.
The special treatment for professional athletes has been going on for many years. A horrific criminal like quarterback Michael Vick, who operated a dog fighting ring, was welcomed back into the NFL after a prison sentence. Even worse is the case of former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. On January 31, 2000, outside of an Atlanta night club, two people were killed. Police initially charged Lewis with two counts of murder. He later cut a deal with prosecutors and was only charged with obstruction of justice. This is the ultimate outrage as Lewis was involved in the death of two people. He left the crime scene and told his friends to “keep their mouths shut,” and that he did not want to “end my career like this.” Amazingly, police never found the white suit that Lewis was wearing on the night of the murders. Even with all of the connections to Lewis, he only received a fine and a year of probation. He was not even suspended for one game by the NFL. Today, Lewis is a high paid commentator on ESPN, continuing to benefit from his NFL career, while two families are still grieving the loss of their loved ones in a case that remains unsolved.
It is not just professional athletes that receive a special type of lenient justice as it extends to the college level as well. For example, Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, Florida State Quarterback, was allowed to lead his team to the national championship even though there were rape allegations against him. The woman leveling the charges was not even interviewed by Florida State authorities until last week. It seems her charges were not taken seriously until recently, another sad case of football taking precedence over a serious charge of violence against women.
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