Greg Hardy's Case Shows The NFL Can Finally Handle Domestic Violence
With over 1,600 players in the NFL, there are bound to be some public arrests.
However, the 2014-2015 season shed some much-needed light on the criminal side of the league.
Back in early September, it became evident (due to surveillance video) that Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice did, indeed, hit his then-girlfriend, now-wife, Janay Palmer, in an Atlantic City elevator.
With this undeniable proof, Rice and the NFL unknowingly started what would become a major social issue campaign for the league.
Months before this video publicly emerged, allegations and outraged fans were all over the news because Rice was only suspended for two games.
Many felt Rice’s suspension wasn't severe enough, and it showed the NFL didn’t see domestic violence as a serious enough issue.
After news that the security footage was leaked, the Ravens terminated Rice’s contract and apologized to the fans of the league.
Although Rice was ultimately fired, the way the Baltimore Ravens (and the NFL as a whole) handled the case was seen as extremely unsympathetic, and many domestic violence support groups were quick to criticize.
Since the infamous Ray Rice case and all the public backlash, the NFL has been slowly but surely increasing the severity of how it handles any violation of the league’s personal conduct policy.
Within this year alone, there have been several serious and very publicized cases of domestic violence in the league (such as a rumored Dez Bryant video and the recently cleared, Ray McDonald).
One case, however, is a vital example on how the NFL is treating domestic violence charges: the case of Greg Hardy.
After Hardy was convicted of assaulting and threatening to kill an ex-girlfriend, he was punished with a 10-game suspension for the 2015 regular season.
Hardy’s suspension is the most extreme punishment the NFL has ever issued for any domestic violence case.
Although the NFL has been pushing in the right direction with its Super Bowl domestic violence PSA and involvement in the “No More” Movement, it wasn’t until Hardy’s suspension that the public saw how serious the NFL truly is on the issue.
Some may see the 10-game suspension as extreme, but it is what the NFL needed to do. It is the NFL's way of properly sending the message that domestic violence is something it does not take lightly.
When looking at the statistics, domestic violence is the third top reason why NFL players have been arrested from 2000 to 2014.
With the league’s policy update and increase of investigations, Roger Goodell (Commissioner of the NFL) and the league are surely trying to take the proper procedures.
"I think sports, in general, have driven a lot of change," Goodell said. "I believe sports has that opportunity, and I think that it's something that's our responsibility and we take that seriously. Because something – if we don't do it correctly – we can't bring change. We have a great platform and we have to make sure we use that platform wisely.”
Goodell believes with all the attention the NFL receives, it can start to act as a role model for how to properly handle domestic violence in the work force.
The NFL has nowhere near perfected how to handle domestic violence. However, with all of the changes in the past year, PSA campaigns and Hardy’s suspension, it’s making the right moves.
It’s unfair to say football is the only sport with domestic violence issues, but after everything that has happened this past year, it can definitely set an example on how social issues should be handled in professional sports.
Domestic violence is a serious issue, which, despite harming thousands of people in this country, goes unreported. If the NFL can find a way to tackle this crime, then maybe we, as a society, can be one step closer to confronting this abuse without fear.