Last week the NFL suspended Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for two games after video surfaced he knocked his wife unconscious in an elevator. The suspension has drawn heavy criticism from fans and people who are not fans of the NFL for what they think was too soft of a punishment for Rice. For instance, Terrelle Pryor was suspended for five games by the NFL for his role in selling memorabilia for tattoos while he was in college. This standard the NFL has set has understandably upset many who felt Rice’s actions are more serious than either smoking a joint or breaking NCAA rules.
Herm Edwards took to the airwaves this morning on SportsCenter to discuss the topic and used a story from his days as the head coach of the Kansas City to illustrate his point about how the NFL can do more in these situations.
Here’s what Edwards said on SportsCenter:
I had a similar situation where I had a player pour some alcohol on a female. It was one of my players and it was during the season. And I called the commissioner up and I said ‘I know you have to go and find out what’s going on but I have enough information from people that were there.’ I deactivated the guy for three weeks. And then the commissioner came in and got him for another week. So that ended up being a month.
The football team, the organization, doesn’t have to wait on the league. I called the owner, I called the player in, and I called the commissioner and I told them ‘You do what you need to do but I’m going to do what I have to do. We’re going to make sure that this stuff stops.’
That player happened to be Larry Johnson, my best player. And I sat him on the bench and told him you’re not playing. And the league can do whatever they need to do, they can go through the jurisdiction and find all the evidence; I’ve got enough evidence, you’re not playing.
This is where the team can step in. You don’t need to wait on the commissioner. This is why I’m sittin’ here and listening to this for the last couple of days and I’m going ‘Wait a minute, the team can do something about this.’ The head coach, the owner can do something about this. You deactivate the guy. It’s that simple.
Herm was incredibly passionate about the idea of the team taking responsibility and holding a higher standard for their players. When a team deactivates a player it effects, among other things, money. Every team must deactivate eight players before every game no matter what, so Herm’s argument is using those spots in situations like these to reinforce certain values.
It is incredibly unlikely the Ravens will deactivate Rice but it seems clear Edwards would seriously consider doing so beyond the two games the NFL has suspended Rice.
I’m with Herm on this one. The NFL has a terrifying issue with violence amongst it’s player off the field, with many of these violent acts happening against women. This is an opportunity for the NFL to not only demand better behavior from it’s players but also help change the culture that exists when it comes to violence against women. Hopefully Herm’s message and idea reaches the ears of people who can do something about situations like Rice’s.