Saturday, August 02, 2014

Squirrel of the Week: The NFL as Social Engineering Device

For the week of 7/20/2014 to 7/26/2014

One hesitates to wade into it. Last week we had Tony Dungy getting blasted for not loving gays enough. We Had Chris Kluwe blasting Dungy at the same time we found out that Kluwe had previously harassed a co-worker by making non-stop child rape jokes.

(Punters should be seen, not heard. Kickers should only very rarely be heard from, namely when and/or if one: makes a clutch game-winning field goal; or produces a great on-side kick, or has a Garo Yeprimian Moment. In that last case, the kicker should be forced to explain himself. Or possibly do a deodorant commercial. "Damn!")

But the real story concerned Ray Rice's suspension for domestic violence. I'm not going to go into all the details of that, you can look it up if you care enough. And I'm certainly not going to talk about the Stephen A. Smith sideline, not at this late date.

What I will say is this: It is ridiculous to expect that the NFL should punish Rice to a greater extent than the law did for this incident, given that the NFL has no contractual reasons to do so. Much has been made of the NFL suspending other players for drug use, especially marijuana. But those guidelines have been drawn out specifically in contract negotiations between the NFL and the NFLPA, the players' union. And they have been negotiated because of the effects drugs have on the game, not because drugs are immoral or bad in-and-of themselves.

Instead, this falls under a kind of "general discretion" set of language. Again, I'm not going to go into the NFL's particular ruling on this case. I will just say that it actually _IS_ in line with many other violent offenses committed by NFL players. In fact, Ray Rice is getting punished more for this than Ray Lewis (also of the Baltimore Ravens) got punished for his participation in a double murder. (Lewis ultimately pled guilty to obstruction of justice in that case.)

Let me reiterate: Rice is getting punished more by the NFL than he is being punished by the legal system. And before I hear another complaint about how rich people get away with all kinds of things because of their money (although they do), this isn't one of those cases. Consider my idiot neighbor.

Idiot neighbor has been arrested and charged with violent crimes 19 times. That would be for a total of 14 felony charges, 12 misdemeanor charges and five unclassified charges. At least 2 of the felony charges and 10 of the misdemeanor charges, as well as all five unclassified charges, have been for domestic violence.

Most likely some of the other violent charges are domestic in nature but I can only get so much from the Orange County Clerk of Courts website. Not all concern domestic violence, however, as he has one "hit and run" charge and a couple for physically assaulting a police officer.

These charges also do not count drug charges, tampering with evidence charges, or a long string of traffic citations that do not include hit and run. And these are only records for one county in Florida. I have reason to suspect he has been in trouble in at least one other Central Florida county. (And yes, I know an awful lot about him. His behavior, both on his own and with his dogs, has forced me to look into his background in order to protect myself.)

He's been in a lot of trouble. He's also skipped bail at least twice, and violated terms of probation on many occasions. He is not a "good person", as demonstrated by a long record.

So when he got arrested on 1 felony count and 2 misdemeanor counts of domestic violence, again, in March of this year, I expected that he would FINALLY get the book thrown at him. After all, he had five felony convictions at that time, as well as 9 misdemeanor convictions, with two of the felonies and all nine of the misdemeanors being for domestic violence. (As well as those five unclassified charges, all of which were for "Domestic Violence with Children [Present]".) And this time there were multiple witnesses who did not seem to be interested in dropping charges.

Instead the two initial misdemeanor charges were dropped, and the felony was reduced to a misdemeanor in exchange for a no contest plea. He got six days time served. And all this happened AFTER he skipped bail again on another charge, skipped the felony trial for that other charge, and eventually was caught and pled guilty to another felony. Six days in jail for his 17th domestic violence conviction.

And my neighbor is dirt poor. He's still trying to pay off a fine from 2004!

So, Ray Rice being put into an interdiction program, especially after his then-fiancee-now-wife pled for leniency, isn't really all that big a stretch, even for someone without money.

Thus, I see no reason for the NFL to punish Ray Rice more than they have. It is NOT their job.

It IS the job of "the authorities", however, and focusing on Ray Rice, Roger Goodell and the NFL let's those who should be responsible off the hook.

The NFL is NOT a social engineering device. It is a sports league dedicated to making money. Expecting it to be more than that is a bunch of promotional hokum, purveyed by various bands of hucksters. (Including the NFL itself, of course.)

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