It can be dangerous business to publicly comment on the disciplinary action taken by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell regarding Ravens running back Ray Rice. His two-game suspension of Rice for domestic violence has outraged many commentators for its leniency. Others who have downplayed the seriousness of Rice’s misconduct or blamed the victim rightly have suffered penalties of their own. The real problem with Goodell’s action, however, is that it constitutes a lost opportunity to alter the way people behave.
Rice deserves a loss of income for the damage he has caused to the NFL’s reputation. The reality is that a much more serious penalty — for example, a year’s suspension — would not have been upheld by the NFL’s labor arbitrator. However, Goodell’s action can be faulted because it is misdirected and does not do much to address the serious societal dysfunction of spousal abuse.