NFL Hunch Line: Cover Pink Proves Timely

2 Sep

Too little, too late.

That had been the prevailing sentiment of an already disgruntled NFL fan-base shortly after hearing news last Thursday (8/28) that Roger Goodell had tightened-up the League policy on substantiated claims of domestic violence & related wrongs committed by players & League employees.

.......Goodell.wc.cca.7.10.8.Sgt.B.DelVecchio.Afghan.616k

Knee-jerk might’ve summed-it-up, just fine.

But that maligning mood may give way to a new sentiment, i.e., better late than never, as the NFL’s fresh-off-the-press, enhanced standard will be tested before the ink’s dry.

Reported on Sunday was the arrest & bail-walk of 49ers veteran defensive lineman Ray McDonald (8y) on a domestic violence incident (“49ers“ / USA-Ty / L.Jones / 8-31-14).

.......McDonald.thumbnail

The following is a key paragraph in the upgrade that the Commissioner’s office gave the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy (PCP) and detailed in letter sent out to owners last week:

Effective immediately, violations of the (PCP) regarding assault, battery, domestic violence or sexual assault that involve physical force will be subject to a suspension without pay of six games for a first offense, with consideration given to mitigating factors, as well as a longer suspension when circumstances warrant….A second offense will result in banishment from the NFL; while an individual may petition for reinstatement after one year, there will be no presumption or assurance that the petition will be granted. These disciplinary standards will apply to all NFL personnel (“Roger Goodell Letter” / espn.com / 8-29-14).

The policy enhancer came in response to a string of events starting last February.

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was arrested, along with then girlfriend, now wife, Janay Palmer, for aggravated assault (Palmer was not charged) in an Atlantic City hotel elevator. Rice was seen on video exiting and pulling an apparently unconscious Palmer out onto the hallway. The athlete reached agreement with County attorney whereby he may avoid conviction if he meets certain counseling and other requirements.

.......Rice.thumbnail

In late July Goodell suspended Rice for what seemed to many a light, disaffected 2-game suspension to start the 2014 NFL season.

While NFL’s action last week is clearly designed to show compassion for victims of the harmful behaviors listed in their letter, to work a deterrent, and address short-comings in the NFL – PCP policy, it should come as little surprise that it’s also most likely intended to stop the bleeding, i.e., head off an anticipated consumer backlash from the fairer sex.

The prevailing perception has been that the NFL’s ‘by the book’ approach in addressing Rice’s criminal – legal circumstance (?) was insufficient and insensitive.

Some may’ve also seen it as contradicting the League’s pro-female stance in procurement of women consumers into it’s football family by way of merchandise, TV personas and sponsorship of a breast cancer awareness campaign (“A Crucial Catch”) as parlayed in the god-awful, gaudy pink game apparel proliferating in the League come October.

.......US.Navy.Pitt.10.7.12.wc.cca.1.5m.Lt.J.Prunera

There are three developing markets in the NFL: children, foreigners and women.

The kids are an easy sell: games (fantasy), glitz & gimmicks. It’s a ‘can’t miss.’

The foreign market has always been a tough nut to crack, given how soccer is god most everywhere outside North America. Any in-roads made are considered a plus.

And State-side, the female consumer sector is potentially huge. It is, however, selective.

Football is an all-male sport (Mo‘Ne Got Pads?). And though it espouses values in team-work, self-sacrifice, loyalty and sportsmanship (sure), it’s brutish & violent at its core, something most women avoid like ESPN (See; S.A. Smith) and socket wrenches.

Just the thought of Mom having been a pro-football fan gives this writer the willies.

While Goodell was roundly criticized for the nearly inconsequential 2g ban given Rice after his “incident of domestic violence,” and failed to explain exactly how NFL could’ve “allowed (their) standards to fall below where they should be (on DV) (“Roger” / espn),” I wrote at the time that the Commissioner’s actions were, to a degree, out of his own control, shaped by a justice system, the parties and precedent, including the CBA.

......NFL.wikiproject.6kb

As well, Roger has given no indication of being soft on bad behavior, i.e., “Bountygate and Bullygate,” and recent Aldon Smith (9g / SF) and Josh Gordon (2014 / CLE) bans.

Where the Commissioner might’ve spared himself, his entity, some verbal flogging was by way of the PR department. If his hands were in fact tied, communicate that fact to the people, Roger.

There is one point (letter) I would, if given the chance, bend Roger’s ear on. He wrote: “The public response reinforced my belief that the NFL is held to a higher standard (“Roger”).”

“Higher?” Really, than what, the Legends (Lingerie) League?

Uh-uh, Roger, not a “higher” standard, just a standard. Lawyers, right?

Though the League had to be a bit jolted by the collective thumbs-down given its Rice punishment, it must’ve suspected it wouldn’t take long, sadly, for its new, ameliorating measures (PCP) to be called into action, showing those fickle fans that the NFL now means business and affording them reason to come back home and help put it back in the pink.

.......Wash.Redskins.Cheer.wc.cca.361k.3.15.4.Italy.USNavy

They just didn’t figure this long, or short (See above; McDonald).

As to Mr. McDonald, the NFL is monitoring the legal process, lawyer-vetted statements will be disseminated accordingly and the public (media & fans) hopefully observes w/emotional detachment.

Then, when the final report is issued and the fallen chips are all stacked, we can assume that any pointed questions directed to the principals will be side-stepped and the standard, ‘I take full responsibility’ will be spewed forth. All we ask is that we‘re spared the other standard (& poor) line in after-math: ‘It is what it is.’ Ugh.

But be assured, if cause does arise from McDonald or future employee incidents where violence or force is confirmed, Goodell & Co. are now, not only empowered but poised to act on that authority w/all due speed, clarity, fairness & firmness, showing the world the NFL has heart and holds human dignity amongst its highest values. Highest.

But as long as Ray Rice laces ‘em up, he’ll remain a symbol of leadership’s need to, not just talk the talk (pink wear and lady sideline reporters), but walk the walk, as well.

And to the Rices or any persons involved in domestic disturbance, be it believed victims, accused, local authorities, family and even employers, we fans wish them well in working out of that troubled state, and remain hopeful that the end results will most often become a learning experience rather than tragic memory of a day, a time, gone terribly wrong.

We also hope that where there are those who sit in judgment, their passing hand is guided by courage & wisdom yet tempered w/compassion, foresight, independence and humility.

Steven Keys
NFL Hunch Line
Photo credits: Goodell / wc.cca / 8.30.12 / SSG-T.Wade – USMA / 2.9m;  Goodell & unidentified soldier / wc.cca / 7.10.08 / Sgt. B.DelVecchio / Afghan / 616k;  McDonald / wc.cca / 8.21.8 / D.Kaczmarczyk / 181k / thumb; Rice / wc.cca / 8.12.12 / 1ravencowboysnflfan / 65k; US.Navy / 10.7.12 / Steelers / 1.5m / wc.cca / Lt. J.Prunera; NFL symbol / wikiproject / Ixnay – Beao / 1.21.10; Redskins – cheer / wc.cca / US.Navy / Italy / 361k.

Posted: 9.1.14 @ 10:57pm, EST

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