Over the weekend, we had another incident. No, not with a Buckeye, but with our culture itself.
If you haven’t heard or seen the reports, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was arrested and charged with domestic assault of his fiance, Janay Palmer. Palmer was also arrested for the altercation and reports are still emerging, but it appears to be a violent episode. There’s footage of Rice trying to drag her unconscious body from the elevator (presumably to the couple’s room).
There’s no argument to be made here that this type of violence is unique to athletes, but the most highly-publicized cases of it seem to come from sports figures. It should go without saying that something needs to be done to stem the tide.
Over the summer, Ohio State fans were witness to a series of events that threatened to shake up the Buckeyes’ roster when top running back Carlos Hyde was accused of assaulting a woman at a bar. Video footage supported the accusation of assault, but also laid the groundwork for a legal defense for Hyde (i.e. it appeared as if the female in question may have struck him first).
Let’s get this clear right away – there may be a legal defense that will prevent a conviction, but there is no excuse for assaulting a woman. None.
Hyde was never charged for his actions that evening, but Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer took a stand. Hyde was suspended for three games (and sat for most of the fourth game, tallying only five carries).
2013 was supposed to be Hyde’s big year, a potential Heisman ballot and a first-round draft pick were on the line. Missing 1/4 of the season ended those hopes, and Hyde showed remorse following the Northwestern game (week 6).
Time will tell if Carlos Hyde learned his lesson, but his actions on and off the field seem to show that he was changed by that night (and the subsequent actions of his head coach).
Athletes, whether they are in college or are professionals, are almost always young men. Young men are going to make mistakes and plenty of them. The quick motion that Hyde took towards that young lady could have been an error made by almost any of us at 21 years of age – it was the punishment that will dictate how he will approach those circumstances next time.
Ray Rice is just now getting put through the media grinder for his actions – whether or not he is sent the same message is yet to be seen. But if the NFL is serious about stemming the tide of violence from its’ players, they need to make a similar stand as Urban Meyer.
A player like Rice might not be swayed by a three-game suspension like Hyde. Hyde’s future was uncertain until he was able to reclaim his position on the field, and the time out of uniform clearly scared him. Rice needs to face the same fear. The NFL needs to take control of this, regardless of the circumstances of that night in Atlantic City.
However, I don’t have much faith in Roger Goodell. He’s shown that he is much more apt to suspend a player for taking Adderall than he is for a player beating a woman.
Take the case of Adam “Pacman” Jones into consideration.
Jones was at a bar last summer when a woman apparently started to pour a beer on him after a verbal altercation. Jones swung violently and hit her hard.
Pacman Jones never faced any repercussions for that assault, despite it being his ninth arrest. No missed practice, no missed games. Hell, Bengals owner Mike Brown excused it at the media day by saying that he sees Adam with his daughter, so he knows that he’s trying hard to be a better man. I didn’t buy it when I heard it come out of Brown’s mouth, and I don’t buy it today.
Jones is a serial offender and will probably do it again because he rarely faces punishment for his violent actions.
Step up, NFL. Make an example of Ray Rice while you can.
Violence against women cannot be tolerated in any form.