Boy, professional sports in general — and the NFL in particular — just can’t catch a break. I have to believe the NFL, Major League Baseball, NBA, et al are really trying to get their players to clean up their acts, especially off the field. There are now hefty fines and suspensions for drug use, DUI convictions or for intentionally trying to hurt opposing players.
Beat up your girlfriend or wife? Eh. No big deal. At least that is how many think the NFL feels when it comes to domestic violence. All of this stems from the announcement last week that Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice would be suspended for two games following his plea for an attack on his then-fiance, one in which he essentially knocked her out in an elevator and then dragged her by her hair off the elevator.
Of course Rice said and did all the right things, his now-wife forgave him (apparently) and, after his two-game suspension, Rice can move on with his life and career — promising such an incident will never happen again.
Even if Rice is true to his word, there are many other professional athletes who, unfortunately, will follow in his footsteps.
Many opponents feel NFL commissioner Roger Goodell does not take domestic violence seriously, given the lightness of Rice’s punishment.
Yet if he tested positive for drugs, he faces a six-, seven-, eight-game suspension.
Here’s a nice little rule for leagues, franchises and teams are encouraged to follow: general sports fans no longer care about drug use by players. What the vast majority of fans do not condone is domestic abuse.
Drug use in sports has been prevalent for so long I think many just assume spectacular performances are drug induced. Some will say drug use in professional sports is a victimless crime, that the long-term ramifications only hurt the user.
I don’t think you will find anyone who will condone beating up anybody, but when a NFL football star beats down his soon-to-be wife, he will be hard pressed to find a lot of support.
And yet when the NFL had a chance to really make a statement about not condoning such violence, Goodell dropped the ball.
So, here is a partial breakdown of punishment for infractions in the NFL: fail a drug test, four-game suspension; beat your girlfriend unconscious, two-game suspension.
The bad news is, I guarantee this will not be the last time Goddell will have to hand down a suspension for a domestic violence incident by one of the players in his league. He’ll get a chance to right the Rice wrong in the future and, if he’s been listening to the outcry from the society of sports, he’ll realize he’ll need to wield a much bigger hammer next time.
Looks like we’re about to find out what kind of baseball team the Oakland A’s have. Will the loss of their leadoff hitter cause as drastic a drop as the San Francisco Giants experienced when it lost Angel Pagan?
We might find out.
First, Oakland’s regular leadoff hitter, center fielder Coco Crisp, has been dealing with a neck injury all season long since an early-season encounter with the fence. He’s been in and out of the Oakland lineup since and apparently things took a turn for the worst Sunday when he was sent home from the A’s road trip in Texas to get further medical evaluations.
No problem. Craig Gentry has done a fine job filling in for Crisp — but now Gentry is going on the disabled list after having his hand broken when he was hit by a pitch Sunday. The A’s called up Billy Burns from Double-A Midland to fill Gentry’s spot.
Despite having the best record in baseball, the A’s still have to focus on winning the American League West first, as the second-place Angels have the second-best record in baseball and are only a couple games behind Oakland.
If Crisp can get healthy enough where he can play more often than not, then the A’s should be OK. If Crisp has to miss any significant amount of time over the next couple of months, A’s fans are in for a wild ride.
Although given the number of home runs Oakland hits coming from nearly every spot in the lineup, they’ll probably survive without Crisp for a couple of weeks. That’s something the Giants could not accomplish with Pagan out of the lineup.
Nathan Mollat can be reached by phone: 344-5200 ext. 117 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You follow him on Twitter@CheckkThissOutt.