NFL needs to be proactive if it wants to tackle domestic violence

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By CAROLINE GAZZARA
College Contributor Network

It's become a topic of heavy debate in recent weeks. From the time of the video release to even now, people are still talking about the fact that Ray Rice hit his now-wife, knocked her out with a single punch and dragged her out of an elevator.

But this was back in February. This was before all the media attention and paparazzi attention. It was before the NFL was caught in the middle of a domestic violence suit that it didn't want to be in. And they have caught a lot of heat because of this.

When Rice and his then-fiancé, Janay Palmer, got into the dispute, the NFL was made aware of the incident and suspended him for two games. That's it, only two games. Where, in comparison, Josh Gordon, wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns, was suspended for the entire season after popping positive for marijuana.

How is this ethically fair to punish a man for an entire season for smoking marijuana but not taking action and punishing a man that abused his now-wife?

As a woman in the sports media industry, it saddens me greatly how little the NFL cares for the women they are in direct contact with everyday. Though no woman plays for an NFL team, many of the league's players are married and they are just as much a part of the NFL as their husbands that play. The fact that it took so long to act on this issue, and only because the media released the elevator video, is a sign that the NFL only cares about the game, not those who are related to them.

A conglomerate of that size and standard should've taken more action on this issue. The NFL is making it out to be a miniscule issue that can be brushed under the rug when in fact this is an issue far too many women are familiar with. If this is something the NFL believes is important, why did it take them this long to act? Why are they being reactive instead of proactive?

Yes, Rice has now been indefinitely suspended. But this was a reactive move by the NFL. They knew about this long before it became a heated issue and did nothing.

And now Rice is petitioning against his suspension. If the NFL lifts his suspension, it's basically the league's way of saying the game is more important than a human being. How can a game be more important than the issues going on with a player and his family? This isn't something that can be overlooked; it can't be put into the corner and brought out on a rainy day.

Major companies like CoverGirl refused to break ties with the NFL after memes surfaced featuring models with black eyes. Celebrities have spoken out against the NFL urging the makeup brand to stop sponsoring them. Viewership has also fallen since the news broke, even more so now that the commissioner may lift the suspension. But none of this will matter until the NFL steps up.

As this debate evolves over the coming weeks and months, it'll be a good chance to see change. Roger Goodell stated that he was creating a committee to help protect and prevent further occurrences from happening. Will that help? Will it be enough? That'll be determined as this issue progresses.

It's time for the leaders of the NFL to finally take a look at themselves and make the needed changes. Or they could not only lose a good portion of their female fan base, but they could also lose a lot of revenue and support from outside companies.

No matter what the NFL decides, it is critical for something to change.


Caroline Gazzara is a junior at the University of Alabama majoring in Sports Journalism. Her passions are Alabama athletics and soccer. Follow her on Twitter: @CarolineGazzara
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