Angles: Private vs. Public: Should Ray Rice’s off-field issues affect his NFL career?

Angles

The Offense

Jon Heiberger

jjheiberger14@ole.augie.edu

 

On Feb. 15, 2014, in an Atlantic City casino, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and his then-girlfriend, now-wife Janay Palmer had an “altercation.”

On March 27, Rice was charged with  aggravated assault, but he was suspended only two games by the NFL.

Last Monday, TMZ released new footage of the incident.  Initially, the only video available was of Rice dragging an unconscious Palmer out of the elevator.  The new video shows Rice brutishly punching her face, knocking her out and dragging her body from the elevator.

A question raised by the string of recent incidents involving NFL players is whether or not the personal lives of players should affect their jobs.  And, if so, where should the line be drawn?

The personal lives of players should affect their jobs.  Violence of any kind should not be tolerated, just as it would not be tolerated by any other employer.

It is good that the NFL suspended Rice indefinitely; his original two-game suspension by the league was dubious at best.

Josh Gordon, a wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns, was suspended for 16 games
(recently reduced to ten games) for violating the league’s substance abuse policy after testing positive for marijuana.

The NFL has every right to punish Gordon for disobeying the drug policy. But when compared to Rice’s paltry two-game suspension, Gordon’s seems preposterous.

Regardless of how many times a player might violate the NFL’s substance abuse policy (which, in Gordon’s case, was the fourth time), no nonviolent crime should ever be punished more severely than a violent one.

Unfortunately, Ray Rice will not be charged with a felony, though he should be.  Instead, he has been sentenced to a pretrial diversion (or PTD).  PTD is similar to probation, so he won’t have to serve any time in jail.  He’ll have community service and educational classes.

And when his PTD ends, the incident will be erased from his public record.

Herein lies the underlying problem with professional athletes: They make absurd amounts of money and are treated as superhumans.  Someone who makes a living playing a game is not intrinsically better than other people.

The only reason why Rice isn’t a felon is because he is a famous, wealthy, American athlete.  If it doesn’t trouble you that an influential person can circumvent the law, it should.  He’s lost his job and been suspended indefinitely, but this is not good enough.

Whatever other problems may exist with America’s justice system, it is a moral outrage to treat professional athletes as if they are somehow above the law.         On Feb. 15, 2014, in an Atlantic City casino, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and his then-girlfriend, now-wife Janay Palmer had an “altercation.”

On March 27, Rice was charged with  aggravated assault, but he was suspended only two games by the NFL.

Last Monday, TMZ released new footage of the incident.  Initially, the only video available was of Rice dragging an unconscious Palmer out of the elevator.  The new video shows Rice brutishly punching her face, knocking her out and dragging her body from the elevator.

A question raised by the string of recent incidents involving NFL players is whether or not the personal lives of players should affect their jobs.  And, if so, where should the line be drawn?

The personal lives of players should affect their jobs.  Violence of any kind should not be tolerated, just as it would not be tolerated by any other employer.

It is good that the NFL suspended Rice indefinitely; his original two-game suspension by the league was dubious at best.

Josh Gordon, a wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns, was suspended for 16 games
(recently reduced to ten games) for violating the league’s substance abuse policy after testing positive for marijuana.

The NFL has every right to punish Gordon for disobeying the drug policy. But when compared to Rice’s paltry two-game suspension, Gordon’s seems preposterous.

Regardless of how many times a player might violate the NFL’s substance abuse policy (which, in Gordon’s case, was the fourth time), no nonviolent crime should ever be punished more severely than a violent one.

Unfortunately, Ray Rice will not be charged with a felony, though he should be.  Instead, he has been sentenced to a pretrial diversion (or PTD).  PTD is similar to probation, so he won’t have to serve any time in jail.  He’ll have community service and educational classes.

And when his PTD ends, the incident will be erased from his public record.

Herein lies the underlying problem with professional athletes: They make absurd amounts of money and are treated as superhumans.  Someone who makes a living playing a game is not intrinsically better than other people.

The only reason why Rice isn’t a felon is because he is a famous, wealthy, American athlete.  If it doesn’t trouble you that an influential person can circumvent the law, it should.  He’s lost his job and been suspended indefinitely, but this is not good enough.

Whatever other problems may exist with America’s justice system, it is a moral outrage to treat professional athletes as if they are somehow above the law.

VS.

The Defense

Sophia Silverman

sjsilverman14@ole.augie.edu

The Ray Rice scandal has been making headlines this week.

It seems like a classic story: overly aggressive man beats his non-offending fiancée in an elevator and knocks her out. He’s been punished by indefinite suspension from the NFL and released from the Ravens. We should all rejoice in his punishment, right? Not exactly.

There is a commonly acknowledged fact in United States law and public opinion that what we do in our own home should not affect our treatment in the workplace. In this case, a domestic altercation doubtlessly occurred.

We have footage telling us that Janay Palmer was knocked out in an elevator. Now we ask ourselves whether Ray Rice should be punished for his actions in a domestic altercation by the NFL, his employer. Does this incident make him a less capable player? Is he any less able to perform on the field? I believe not.

The truth of the matter is that we can all see that Ray Rice is a great player. I know very little about football, and even I can tell that he’s a true hero on the field. He did a horrible thing (and domestic violence is inexcusable), but our position as fans and viewers of the NFL isn’t to excuse him from his crimes against Janay Palmer.

Our job is to watch him play, the way his job was to entertain us with his playing. When we bring his private life and his personal mistakes into the field, we set a bad precedent and we punish ourselves through the loss of this great player.

The NFL suspension is a mistake. We all will see how the Ravens suffer without Rice and how the game of football will suffer without him there to rush the field.

I believe that we, as enlightened people of this new era, can see the error in his suspension. Rice was a great player and the NFL is losing a gem by suspending him.

Even more importantly, it sets the precedent that we, too, can be penalized in our work life because of the things in which we chose to engage in at home.

It doesn’t matter that his actions were wrong. It only matters that his penalty sets a precedent. It tells us that we are not safe from feeling the ramifications of our private lives in public. It tells us that our jobs are subject to our actions at home.

The NFL transgressed on Rice’s personal life needlessly and should not be praised for doing so.

In short, I believe that the NFL should reverse their judgment and that Rice should be permitted to play within the NFL again. Not because I believe in Rice’s actions, but because I believe in privacy.

I believe in the fundamental American right to separate private life from the public persona and that’s what was violated here. Rice is no less capable a player because of the incident, no less able to perform. That is all that should matter.