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Quick Inside Slant: Week 1

Impressions of the 2014 NFL Season as perceived by a Creative Writing graduate student, part-time amateur stand-up comedian and collegiate intramural flag football legend.

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By: Dustin Fisher

Week 1

broken league inside

Buckle your chin straps, ladies and gentlemen. We’re going over the middle.

My first thought when watching the elevator footage is that Ray Rice is a piece of gutter trash. If I ran the world, he wouldn’t be allowed to do anything he wanted. Binge watch Breaking Bad, play chess on the internet, or eat a muffin. How could the NFL only suspend him for two games when they knew this happened?

But wait a minute. What about the criminal justice system? Picking on the NFL is low-hanging fruit. We know they only care about things once they become PR problems. They’re still pretending concussions don’t lead to long-term health problems. But isn’t there a system in place in this country to deal with situations like this? Yes there is. And they decided that this incident was worthy of a pretrial intervention program. If you don’t know what a PTI is, it basically means you have to be good, maybe pee in a cup, and maybe go to counseling for between one and three years. That’s not even the equivalent of a two-game suspension. Apparently, you can beat your fiancée unconscious as long as it’s your first time.

But wait another minute. Why is there such outrage now that we saw the video? It’s pretty much exactly what we knew had happened, right? I’m certainly not surprised. At least that’s what I said because I didn’t want to sound like an idiot on Facebook. But honestly, there is much power in actually seeing something. I’m not proud to admit it, but it took seeing this video for me to really understand exactly what domestic violence is. The term is thrown around nowadays without the weight it deserves, like drunk driving, chronic depression, and dog fighting. But as of this week, domestic violence has a face. And a video to accompany those two words, giving them that much-deserved weight.

However, folks – and if I haven’t lost you yet, this may be where it happens – what right do we have to that video? Isn’t this the same country that crapped a wall-full of bricks when we found out our phone conversations were being recorded? Granted, this beating happened in a public elevator at a casino, but what if TMZ got a copy of a surveillance video from Ray’s house? Not a single person, when seeing that video, said “How dare this piece of crap beat this woman, and in a public casino of all places!” I know. I checked twitter. Our judgment of this person and the expectations of his sanctions from various entities would likely remain the same had the video come from inside his house. It seems as though we vehemently want big brother out of our private quarters, unless it catches wife-beaters or racist basketball owners. Or maybe it’s just our own personal lives we want to stay private, but everybody else is fair game. I’m not sayin, I’m just sayin.

The NFL is a business. It has no responsibility to build a better society or change anybody’s mind about anything. Roger Goodell was hired by 32 of the richest people in the world to try to make them more money, and he gets paid quite well ($40 million-ish per year) to be the public’s punching bag. And when he’s gone, there will be another patsy wearing that jester’s hat. These 32 people who hired him likely didn’t make their billions of dollars by being nice guys. They do what is in the better interest of the almighty dollar. Every cause they champion is a ploy. Their rules and policies on head injuries change with every hit. They obviously have no idea what they’re doing, but they need to pretend they’re doing something for PR sake. It wasn’t surprising to see them making up the rules as they went along with this case as well. First a two-game suspension, then an admission of a need for a stricter policy (which would give first-time offenders a six-game suspension) after public outcry, then an indefinite suspension of a case they had already tried and deemed worthy of a two-game suspension after video evidence had surfaced. Their pendulum doesn’t just swing back and forth, it surfs wormholes to other dimensions. What I don’t understand is why they wouldn’t come down on Ray Rice with the same hammer they used for Bountygate. They had to figure there was a chance that the video of the beating would surface sometime. It seems like a good PR move. And Ray Rice is popular, but he’s not Peyton Manning or Drew Brees. I didn’t expect the NFL to be sensitive, but I did expect them to be smarter.

Maybe the NFL was just taking their cues from the USA, which, as a country, decided pretrial intervention was the appropriate punishment. And why is that? Didn’t they see how violent this was? Well, what can they really do when the victim doesn’t press charges, stands by the plaintiff, and marries the gutter trash? How deep into one’s house can the arm of the law reach? The bottom line is that Ray got caught. There are 14 current NFL players that have a history of domestic violence who are playing this week because they didn’t get it on video. And that’s a shame. But it’s also a reality.

I really didn’t want to write about this incident this week. I’d much rather have talked about the rise of the Falcons, my can’t-miss fantasy draft technique, and the awesome Antonio Brown crane-kick to the punter’s neck that I’ve never ever seen before. Every time a new wrinkle of this story absorbs another broadcast of SportsCenter, I just feel dirty. Dirty for the corruption and incompetence there seems to be all over this case, dirty for putting that poor woman through seeing this all over TV, and dirty for my own ignorance. And when the Ravens play the Steelers tonight, I will feel dirty helping to pay Goodell’s $40 million salary. But I will watch. And that’s the reality that keeps the NFL in business.

Dustin Fisher is a writer, comedian, storyteller, and stay-at-home dad. Follow along with his dad blog at http://daddyneedsanap.com/ or buy his first book, Daddy Issues.

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Dustin Fisher is an amateur standup comedian, storyteller, freelance writer, and stay-at-home dad, all of which are just better ways of saying “unemployed.” He worked in the area of collegiate recreation for the previous 14 years at UMBC, Miami University and the University of Baltimore. There, he became somewhat of a folk legend on the flag football field and actually got paid to play fantasy football. Dustin is currently in the MFA program at the University of Baltimore seeking a Masters degree in Creative Writing. He has made contributions to various publications including The Good Men Project and the Baltimore Fishbowl. For more about Dustin, check out his stay-at-home dad website, Daddy Needs a Nap. Dustin lives with his wife and daughter in New Carrollton, MD in a house surrounded by too many trees to get the Dish Network.

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Comments
4 Responses to “Quick Inside Slant: Week 1”
  1. Carl Wilke says:

    Spot on, Dustin. I’m still wondering how and why the NFL hasn’t taken action against two players with domestic violence charges. One, Greg Hardy of Carolina, was convicted in July. Another, Ray McDonald of the 49ers, was charged with beating his girlfriend just days after Goodell announced the league’s stiffer penalties. Yet he still played in week one. Tells me all I need to know about how seriously the NFL is actually taking domestic violence.

  2. Well, the toothpaste is out of the tube now. I don’t see how they can not suspend those two guys with a heavy hand. Of course, if they claim that these guys got their misdoings in before the new policy was in place, well then how come that didn’t apply to Ray Rice? These guys look silly. I can actually hear the Keystone Kops theme in the background when Goodell starts to speak.

  3. Larry says:

    I had problems with him originally getting two games.
    However, now that the video comes out and everything is going crazy, I find it disingenuous.

    • You’re very right. Disingenuous is a good description of the NFL, specifically with the mishandling of this issue. I’m definitely going to keep that in my back pocket for the future. Thanks, Larry.