Dear Mr. Goodell -
I am a Public Relations professional and, instead of trying to offer you any advice, I am here to tell you that you and your league are beyond help. You have really fucked up disciplining domestic abuser Ray Rice. It was bad enough when the Baltimore Ravens held that ridiculous press conference during which Janay Rice accepted partial responsibility for getting punched in the face and knocked out by her soon-to-be husband. But this? Regardless of your intent, you have sent the message to fans that the NFL thinks domestic violence is a trivial matter. A PR problem, true, but also a problem that cuts to the core of just how morally bankrupt you are.
Let's analyze your official NFL statement:
COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL notified Baltimore Ravens running back RAY RICE today that he will be suspended without pay for the first two 2014 regular season games and fined an additional game check for conduct detrimental to the NFL in violation of the league's Personal Conduct Policy for his February arrest.
Ok, right here is your first failure. I know you want to sound tough ("suspended without pay" "conduct detrimental") but you don't. And that's not just a PR problem — it's because you actually are not being tough on him. When you look at how long other players have been suspended for, say, violating the NFL's drug policy or shooting themselves in the leg, two games is a slap on the wrist in comparison. And tacking on the "fined an additional game" just serves as a reminder that the goal is to minimize the impact on his ability to play as much as possible. There is no way to spin this in your favor because there's nothing to spin. By setting Rice's punishment for punching his girlfriend in the face and dragging her unconscious body around at less than that for a player who gets caught smoking some weed or accepting impermissible benefits while in college, you send the clear message that violence against women is less important than crimes of violence against...no one.
In May, Rice resolved the charges by entering into a pretrial intervention program. Under this program, he will not be prosecuted and is not required to serve jail time or pay any fine. After one year, the charges will be expunged and will not be part of Rice's record.
Thank you for reminding us that it isn't just the NFL that doesn't give a fuck about domestic violence — it's also the judicial system!
Following this agreement, Goodell met with Rice and his wife. Despite the court's decision not to impose criminal punishment, the Commissioner determined, as he advised Rice, that the conduct was incompatible with NFL policies and warranted disciplinary action.
Bully for you. You're going a marginal step beyond a law enforcement and judicial system that routinely fails to punish those who commit domestic violence or protect those who are abused. And I love how you point out that you met with Rice and his wife. How nice of you to include her in this process. She is very important, obviously, though not important enough to be referred to as anything but "wife" throughout your entire statement and letter to Rice.
In a letter to Rice, Commissioner Goodell stated:
"As you acknowledged during our meeting, your conduct was unquestionably inconsistent with league polices and the standard of behavior required of everyone who is part of the NFL. The league is an entity that depends on integrity and in the confidence of the public and we simply cannot tolerate conduct that endangers others or reflects negatively on our game. This is particularly true with respect to domestic violence and other forms of violence against women.
Oh, such severe sounding bullshit. "Unquestionably inconsistent with league policies" and "depends on integrity" and this paragraph is laughably untrue. But I want to focus on the claim that the league takes "domestic violence and other forms of violence against women" particularly seriously. You suspended Michael Vick indefinitely for conduct that hurt dogs.* You suspended Ray Rice for two games for conduct that hurt a woman, which you seem to have forgotten is an actual human being.
"You will be expected to continue to take advantage of the counseling and other professional services you identified during our meeting. As you noted, this additional assistance has been of significant benefit to you and your wife, and it should remain a part of your practice as appropriate.
Well, if he says it has been a significant benefit, we should believe him. And how nice of you and the NFL to do his PR work for him. Clearly the most important thing you can do in this situation is rehabilitate the image of the guy who knocked his then-girlfriend out in an elevator. Did his wife have anything to say? Would she feel able to speak up even if she did?
"I believe that you are sincere in your desire to learn from this matter and move forward toward a healthy relationship and successful career. I am now focused on your actions and expect you to demonstrate by those actions that you are prepared to fulfill those expectations."
Punching your significant other in the face is really just a teachable moment. I do have to say I am impressed that you put "healthy relationship" before "successful career" though I have no doubt you give zero fucks about the former.
Rice's suspension will begin on August 30. He will be eligible for reinstatement on Monday, September 12 following the Ravens' game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Rice may participate in all aspects of training camp and preseason games.
Oh, good! This suspension will have minimal impact on his ability to play football and seamlessly reintegrate himself into the Ravens' offense when he returns from his pitifully short suspension. Phew!
Rice may appeal this decision within three days.
Appeal? It's his right, of course, but my guess is he's feeling pretty good with your decision.
Go fuck yourself, and I mean this sincerely.
*As has been pointed out, Vick was effectively suspended for only two games. So yay for equality to dogs.