With all the hubbub about civil unrest in the Middle East, Ukranian dissent and Comic-Con, you may have missed the slap heard ’round the world.
We mean one the NFL delivered in response to that cowardly act by Rice: Suspended for two whole games. For those not in the know, if you smoke a joint and get caught in the NFL, you’ll be suspended for four games.
See the problem now?
There couldn’t be a larger and more thunderous #PRFail than this coming from a multi-billion-dollar empire like the NFL, which makes sure to demonstrate a bit of “pinkwashing” each October, right? Maybe not. Here’s the official statement from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell directed to Ray Rice, wifebeater:
“You will be expected to continue to take advantage of the counseling and other professional services you identified during our meeting. As you noted, this additional assistance has been of significant benefit to you and your wife, and it should remain a part of your practice as appropriate.
I believe that you are sincere in your desire to learn from this matter and move forward toward a healthy relationship and successful career. I am now focused on your actions and expect you to demonstrate by those actions that you are prepared to fulfill those expectations.”
There is a double standard in professional sports that is as old as the generations that have watched it: If you are an All-Star, you are all good. If you suck, you can get fired.
Ray Rice is an effective running back. In fact, he’s really good, which is why the NFL gave him the equivalent of a parking ticket. Two games for a guy making millions of dollars per year?! Cool. Thanks for the two-week vacation.
It matters because Ray Rice is an employee of both a team and a league. And neither one of his employers gives a crap about his wife. Full disclosure: if I do so much as ignore a phone call, I’m suspended. And I’m self-employed!
The NFL has some serious egg on its face and Twitter is letting them know about it. Forget the fans (you know, like the NFL has). What about former players? Take this tweet from former Saints and Cowboys LB Scott Fujita:
The message to my wife & 3 daughters today? The business that’s been such a big part of our life, really doesn’t give a f**k about you.
— Scott Fujita (@sfujita55) July 24, 2014
The NFL needs to fix this.
This is why PR stands for something – public relations. The public just lost trust in the NFL. Unfortunately, it probably won’t matter one bit because following training camp comes the pre-season.
Want to see how much this matters to the fans then? Watch the stadiums get packed for a pre-season game. That is why Ray Rice can hit his wife and get off lightly.