Now that the Super Bowl has come and gone, the 2014 NFL season is now officially over, and it can easily be said that a cluster of bad decisions turned the NFL season into a travesty.
The NFL and its administration are walking, talking hypocrisies. Over the course of the season, we have had new policies implemented, born out of multiple controversial decisions. For example, the Ray Rice incident changed the future of the NFL and how a player’s personal conduct is perceived. I do not like one bit how the NFL shows no accountability for itself, as an institution, but tries to dictate the personal conduct of its players.
It does not help how reactionary the league was this past year, either.
The Ray Rice incident spawned the hiring of executive female employees. The only problem I have with this is the circumstances in which they were hired. I believe these women were hired as a public relations move. I am not saying the women are not qualified enough to get the jobs, but I am sure they were just as qualified before the Ray Rice incident occurred. I would find their employment with the NFL to be more deserving if they were hired prior to Ray Rice hitting his then fiancé, Janay Palmer. The league took a lot of time to make changes to its administration, only after the video surfaced of Rice punching his then-fiancé on Sept. 8; however, the incident occurred on Feb. 5. It took the NFL six months and three days to actually see the video. I was so frustrated with the league for railroading Ray Rice, while trying to absolve itself for making such a terrible ruling.
The ruling for which I am referring to is suspending Rice for the entire season only after the video was seen by the public and made national news. It was one of the most absurd NFL rulings, as the league punished Ray Rice, twice, for the same offense. As a fan of football and a person against all types of violence, I thought the two-game suspension did not really say much about how the NFL viewed domestic violence incidents, but, nevertheless, officials made the decision.
Even worse, the NFL did not stand by its decision. They folded under their own insecurity, pressure from the media and the initial public outcry after the release of video.
In a USA Today article in August 2014, NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodell defended his ruling of a two-game suspension.
“Ray Rice did not have another incident,” Goodell said. “There were other cases, and we take them into account. We have to remain consistent. We can’t just make up the discipline. It has to be consistent with other cases and it was consistent with other cases.”
He also delivered praise to the former pro-running back. “I think what’s important here is that Ray is being accountable for it. He recognizes he made a horrible mistake and he knows what he did is unacceptable by his standards and by our standards.”
One month after the interview, Rice was suspended by Goodell, indefinitely, and released by the Baltimore Ravens. Rodger Goodell essentially went back on this word.
Cornerback Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks made an interesting point in acknowledging how the NFL will take priority less egregious issues, such as wearing headphones or different colored cleats, but when a scandal like Deflategate appears, the league does not want to rush things, or so they say.
“They were trying to suspend Marshawn for gold shoes and that [deflating the ball] really affects the game,” Sherman said, according to the Boston Globe. “You suspend Marshawn for gold shoes, then you’ve got balls being deflated and that’s the issue.”
I think Sherman hit the nail on the head. The NFL has been playing fast and loose and trying to stick it to players who try to express themselves in their own unique way. The NFL wants you to say what they want you to say and nothing else. The proof was seen throughout the Super Bowl media coverage. Marshawn Lynch wearing his own brand of “Beast Mode” hat during the Super Bowl media press conference was thought to be subject to a fine. The NFL also considered fining Rams players for expressing their first amendment right of free speech after coming onto the field by holding their hands up into the air in a surrender position, protesting the recent Michael Brown ruling.
The most idiotic thing I heard this season was the NFL telling players and coaches they cannot wear Beats headphones during the post-game press conference. Due to the Bose Corp. being the official sound of the NFL, the league did not want their players influencing competition against their partner. But what does that do to players like Colin Kaepernick and Richard Sherman, who have contracts with other corporations, such as Beats? The NFL is interfering with their player endorsements to satisfy their own agendas and appease their sponsors. I understand no person or group is bigger than the NFL, but that is hard to believe, when one man is calling all the shots, while the players have to sit there and take it.
Hopefully, next season will be filled with less turmoil, less administrative reactiveness and more proactive policies, but if it is not, then it will not be the NFL.