The National Football League and its Commissioner Roger Goodell have been embroiled in a seething controversy since Sept. 8, when a video was released showing Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice slugging his then-fiancée in an elevator.
Rice was released by the Ravens and, eventually, Goodell suspended him indefinitely. But the video raised fresh questions about why Goodell initially suspended Rice in July for only two games.
That incident came first. Then, last week, the Minnesota Vikings deactivated, reactivated and again deactivated Adrian Peterson after he was accused of beating his 4-year-old son.
In a news conference last Friday, Goodell said he hoped to unveil a new personal conduct policy by the Super Bowl in February, and he said he would consult various experts on creating a transparent system to penalize players for their off-field behavior. He offered little in the way of specifics but said he was open to anything, including working with the NFL Players Association and reviewing his role in determining violations.
“There will be changes to our personal conduct policy,” he said. “I know this will happen because we will make it happen.”
He added, “We will get our house in order first.”
It’s about time.
The domestic violence aspect to these cases are awful enough. They have sparked a national debate on the topic and perhaps good will come of that.
But, there is another dark side to this. This fall, there are millions of young children going out for school-sponsored and other youth football and other sports programs across the nation.
Many of these youngsters have dreams of playing on Sundays. They idolize these players and look at the message these stars are sending.
Just as the issue of domestic violence in the NFL has blackened the eyes of the league, these athletes have the power to inspire and set an example for the kids who hope to follow in their footsteps.
This is a big money business and these players are paid millions of dollars and have a national stage every Sunday throughout the season. We can only hope they can use this power for good.