The biggest problem the NFL had last season was the number of domestic violence cases involving big name players. While any case of this despicable action is to be discouraged, the fact that some of the better players in the league were involved brought even more negative publicity to the league.
On Wednesday, the NFL announced that Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy, who was involved in one of those highly-publicized cases, was going to be suspended 10 games due to conduct detrimental to the league.
The problem with the punishment the NFL handed out is the fact that Hardy missed just as much time as Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who didn’t play after the first game, and less time than Ray Rice who did not play at all. Both Peterson and Rice faced similar issues with the law last season.
Peterson has been reinstated by the league and Rice was reinstated last season after winning his suspension appeal. So Peterson and Rice missed roughly the same number of games, yet Hardy is going to miss close to another full season for his actions?
Hardy isn’t taking this punishment lying down. While nobody can condone what he allegedly did, he does have a point.
The NFLPA has already come out and said that they are going to appeal the suspension, and they could have a case here. It seems that Hardy is being punished more in his case and that can be a slippery slope considering the league has not been able to make some of these penalties stick as of late.
The NFL needs to set a blanket punishment as part of their conduct policy. Otherwise, the league appears to be trying to make the distinction that some forms of abuse are worse than others.
The NFL needs to set a punishment for domestic abuse in the next collective bargaining agreement with the NFLPA. The NFLPA and the league need to sit down and negotiate a fair punishment for this type of offense. Otherwise, the player’s association will fight any attempt to punish these players because the league is going to come down extra hard to try and save some face after the public outcry from this past season.
As much as the NFL would like it to be, this nightmare is not over yet. The league will go through the appeal process with Hardy and the history of these players will follow them once they step back onto the field.
It certainly looks like Rice’s career might be done, but as Dallas proved this offseason, there is still a market for players with this mark on their record. Until then, all the league can do is hope the number of these incidents takes a drastic decline.