Ezekiel Elliot Suspension
November 21, 2017
Unlike other commissioners, Roger Goodell acts many times as the judge, jury, and executioner when determining consequences for player misconduct within the league. From Josh Gordon of the Browns and his issues with marijuana to more recently Ezekiel Elliot and his allegations of domestic abuse, Goodell alone hands down the punishments.
While this would not be problem in an ideal world where all punishments are deemed to fit the crime, this is not the case with Goodell. He continues to insist on handling player discipline amidst the public-relations mess that it has caused him. Every notable time he has been involved with disciplining a player it has backfired and made an already toxic relationship between the NFL and the NFL Players Union even more toxic.
Goodell has been involved with some of the largest scandals in the NFL in recent history: DeflateGate, bounty gate, the Ray Rice video, Josh Brown of the Giants, and now Ezekiel Elliot. While all these issues are divisive, I am going to zone in on the ones dealing with physical abuse because the punishments seem the most puzzling when compared to other incidents.
The Ray Rice incident was the first to occur. Initially only suspending Rice for two games, the NFL changed their decision once the video was made public, deciding to suspend Rice indefinitely. Although this was overturned, Rice has not played a down in the NFL since.
Then there is Josh Brown, he was initially suspended one game for domestic abuse. However, after further investigation he was given a six-game suspension and was subsequently released by the Giants.
Ezekiel Elliot was immediately suspended six games after an investigation by the NFL headed by Goodell into a claim of domestic violence. However, one of the lead investigators, Kia Roberts’ believed that Elliott’s accuser was not credible. Despite this, Goodell continued to stand by his six-game suspension and later appointed his own arbitrator for the situation and appeal by Elliot.
While Goodell may have gotten these suspensions right, it would be beneficial for him to leave the off the field issues to law enforcement first and then rule on their judgements. By doing this, Goodell would eliminate the discrepancy of consequences and therefore make all situations less volatile and divisive for players involved.
It is refreshing to see someone take a hard stance against domestic abuse, even though it did take a disgusting video and controversy for this position to begin. However, Goodell should cease overstepping his rule as commissioner of the NFL. Instead of looking to make statements and improve the league’s image, he should take more time to make a sound judgement.
By doing this there would be less controversy between each suspension. For example, Josh Brown, a white kicker for the Giants received a one game suspension initially. On the other hand, Ezekiel Elliot was given a six-game suspension right off the bat. Each case had the same type of substantial evidence but Goodell gave a harsher punishment to Elliot.
In a time where the NFL is surrounded by dispute both on the field and off, the league’s image and relationship with the player’s association would be vastly improved if Goodell did not overstep his bounds and instead took more time to make sound judgements on disciplinary issues. This would be even more enhanced if instead of being a one man disciplinary crew who appoints his own judges he had a department who took care of this so he it was more impartial.