Tag Archives: ray rice

The Early Trials of Ben McAdoo

by Brendan Ripley-Barasch

It is widely known that players and coaches of New York’s professional sports teams are subject to scrutiny that might not exist for smaller market clubs. If he wasn’t aware of this before, Ben McAdoo, Head Coach of the New York Giants, now certainly understands the magnitude of operating in the epicenter of professional sports.

As the Giants near the midway point of the NFL season, they sport a record of 4-3 which falls a bit short of the hefty expectations that were placed on them heading into the year. This team, which missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year in 2015, underwent a massive and expensive rebuild in the off-season. The Giants handed out over $200 million in free agency in an attempt to revamp an atrocious defense that plagued them last year and then followed suit in the 2016 NFL Draft when they selected cornerback Eli Apple with the 10th overall pick. However, the changes didn’t just come in terms of players but also with coaching. Following the disappointing 2015 season, two-time Super Bowl winning Head Coach, Tom Coughlin, decided to step down, leading to the eventual promotion of Ben McAdoo from Offensive Coordinator to Head Coach for the first time in his career. Obviously there were going to be a few growing pains stemming from the changes  made, but no one could have predicted the problems that would surround the Giants in the first few weeks of the 2016 season. To expect a rookie Head Coach to handle these problems with ease would be an unreasonable assumption.

Odell Beckham Jr., who has shined in his first two seasons with New York, has been a topic of discussion among the media so far this year. While the Giants were able to get off to a 2-0 start to begin the season, disappointment ensued when they relinquished a late lead to the NFC East rival Washington Redskins in a 29-27 loss. Beckham had the camera turned on him for the most part of the game due to the highly anticipated match up between him and CB Josh Norman. Beckham was able to have a very productive day, catching seven passes for a combined 121 yards and drawing multiple penalties. While he was able to do well on the field, what he did off of it was a different story. Following a stalled possession, Beckham took out his frustration on the sideline when he struck a kicking net that responded by bouncing back and hitting the receiver in the face. This humorous highlight was then played on loop in the following week while reporters discussed the player’s struggles to handle his emotions. In their next game against the Vikings, Odell once again had the spotlight on him when he was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct on a day where nothing went his way. Following these outbursts, Odell released a statement where he was quoted as saying, “I’m not having fun anymore,” when talking about playing football.

Odell seemed to have changed his ways in the next couple weeks where he manged to keep his emotions in check and make fun of his altercation with the kicking net on multiple occasions. But in a game against the Baltimore Ravens, after scoring a game winning touchdown to cap off a career day which included a staggering 222 yards receiving, he cost his team when he removed his helmet on the field leading to an unsportsmanlike penalty. These sideline tantrums have turned into an unnecessary distraction for a team with playoff aspirations and have also put Beckham’s teammates and coaches in a bad spot. McAdoo and the rest of the Giants’ players have voiced their support for the player but emphasized that these kinds of actions will not be tolerated anymore.

The other big dilemma that McAdoo has had to deal with in his first year as Head Coach involved Giants’ kicker, Josh Brown, who was accused of abusing his wife. After the team signed Brown to a two-year $4 million extension in April, the player was suspended for the first game of the season stemming from an investigation conducted by the NFL into his arrest in May of 2015. Although he was never charged in the matter, Brown certainly broke the NFL’s domestic violence policy but somehow only received a one game suspension. This minor penalty does not demonstrate what Commissioner Roger Goodell has stated would be the base-line punishment for any player involved in domestic violence. After the Ray Rice fiasco in 2014, Goodell announced that anyone involved in these kind of cases would receive a minimum six game suspension. But rather than focusing on how the league failed to uphold this policy, New York media looked at McAdoo as having mishandled the entire ordeal and questioned why a player like this was able to stay on the roster.

Things changed when new documents were released last week by the King County Sheriff Office that showed Brown admitting that he had abused his wife, Molly Brown, on multiple occasions. This caused the NFL to re-open their investigation into the case and the New York Giants organization did what they should have done in the first place when they officially cut Brown.

Following the release of Josh Brown, Giants President and Chief Executive Officer, John Mara, admitted that him and the rest of the team’s executives’ actions in accordance to the situation were “misguided.”  He stated that the information that was made available to them never showed any irrefutable evidence that Brown had been guilty of committing this crime but after the release of these new documents they concluded that it was time to part ways with the player.

With all of this said, is it reasonable to place the blame on Ben McAdoo for not handling this situation properly? No, but that is the reality of being in charge of a professional team in the biggest market in sports. As previously stated, the team was never given all the information about Brown’s case and when they finally were, they cut the player. Sadly, even though they did the right thing, they will still be criticized for not doing it soon enough.

Being a rookie Head Coach in the NFL is obviously no simple task, but add in the fact that that McAdoo has had to deal with a variety of sensitive issues while also considering the ferocious nature of NY media, it is almost impossible to operate under the radar. For now it seems like this issues have been put in the past, OBJ is well aware of the fact that he simply cannot continue to act the way he has been and Josh Brown is officially not the Giants responsibility anymore. Although, this doesn’t mean McAdoo can relax yet. He still has the duty of putting a competitive team on the field every Sunday, he has to figure out how to incorporate new formations and plays into an offense that has been exposed as being one-dimensional, and overall he has to be a leader for a team that is currently missing one. So far in 2016, the NFC East has shown it might be the best division in all of football and now that these problems seem to be in the past, the New York Giants can finally just focus on winning games.






Media Reacts: NFL’s First Month in 6 Years With No Arrests

by Nicholas Muhl

The first month of the 2015 NFL regular season ended this past weekend. The end of September also marked the first month in 6 years that no NFL player has been arrested.

According to Reuters reporter Mike Rosenberg, the NFL has averaged “an arrest per week” since 2009. Rosenberg also reported that this is the first time in 15 years “the NFL went a calendar month during the season without an arrest.” The league has already had 33 total arrests in 2015, most recently San Fransisco 49ers Linebacker Ahmad Brooks who was charged with sexual battery at the end of August.

Alexandra Sifferlin reported the news for TIME and included a link in his article to USA Today’s NFL arrest archive. The archive contains a complete, descriptive account of a total of 805 NFL player arrests records dating back 15 years to January 24, 2000 when Broncos wide receiver Rod Smith was arrested for allegedly beating and choking his wife. It seems paradoxical that 15 years later we continue to see so many similar headlines. Katie Link and Christian Bryant of the Ventura County Star posed this question about the news of an arrest-free month, “should we view this ‘achievement’ as pathetic, or impressive?” On the other hand, the Dispatch Times referred to it as a “mind-blowing milestone.”  

Since 2009 the NFL has been subject to many media and criminal investigations regarding their many player arrests. Most notably is former New England Patriots Tight End Aaron Hernandez who was convicted of murder in April. Hernandez and other high profile players like former Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy, San Francisco’s Ray MacDonald, Baltimore Ravens Ray Rice, and Viking’s Adrian Peterson have made national headlines and brought up many social issues outside of the sport of football; including rape culture, drug use, animal cruelty, and alcohol and drug abuse. 

The criminal history and violent backgrounds behind many NFL players is not an issue the media has shied away from reporting. However, it is important to note that news of the NFL’s arrest-free month quickly spread on social media, sports blogs and major media conglomerates. This differs from the issue of injuries which I detailed in my article last week, “Protecting the player’s or Protecting the Shield”. Approximately 15 percent of players in the league have experienced an injury this season. While on an individual level this has been heavily reported, injuries and their increasing totals have been a largely avoided issue. However, media and the league did not shy away from making sure (quite literally) that everyone knows it went through an arrest-free month. The NFL and it’s PR department have attempted to put some distance between itself and both the injury and conduct issues the league faces, and will jump at any opportunity they can to make the league look better as it and commissioner Roger Goodell continue to face extreme criticism for the way the league is currently being run. It remains to be seen whether real change is progressing in the league or if this month was merrily a statistical anomaly that further proves the major conduct issues the NFL faces.

Another NFL Poor Decision

By Kia Tyus

Personally, I am sick of celebrities getting special treatment for felony type crimes.

Ray Rice went into a drunken rage against his wife. He punched her and dragged her out of the elevator. Let’s be honest, we all saw the video. Rice came forward and told the National Football League (NFL) what he did. The NFL chose to cover up a superstar and now Rice has won his appeal and can be signed to any team in the NFL.

Multiple NFL players have been suspended for failing drug test and substance abuse test. Yet, they only get suspended for a few games then, they return to the field as if nothing has happened.

Gregg Rosenthal wrote an article about Josh Brent returning to the Dallas Cowboys.

Last year, Dallas Cowboys Josh Brent was involved in a drunken car crash that killed former Dallas Cowboys and best friend Jerry Brown.

A regular civilian would have been sentenced to multiple years in prison as well as a lengthy probation afterwards. Not in the case of Jerry Brown.

Jerry Brown instead was sentenced to 180 days in jail and 10 years of probation. Now, Brown has recently been reinstated with the Cowboys and can play Sunday. Also, Brown has been practicing recently with the team.

I understand that everyone should receive a second chance. But, I feel as though the NFL’s and the laws priorities are not in order. Michael Vick went to prison for participating in dog fighting, but he wasn’t the ones actually fighting the dog.

Yet, a guy who was drunk behind the wheel of a car is not only returning to the Cowboys, but signed a contract extension that will last to 2015. The Cowboys felt that Brent would be an asset to Dallas’s rush defense.

The way that the Rosenthal article was edited further gave me the impression that the NFL doesn’t really believe in punishing the players even if the law let’s the players get off. I think that the NFL needs to increase their punishments for breaking the rules. Players simply aren’t taking them seriously because they know that their punishment won’t be that severe.

Domestic Abuse in the NHL

By Savannah Malnar

Domestic abuse is a serious issue that has lately become a hot topic in professional sports, namely the NFL. Unfortunately cases can be found in multiple sports, most recently in the NHL. Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov was suspended indefinitely by the NHL due to him being arrested for domestic violence charges.

While the NFL has now made very strict and specific rules regarding domestic abuse (the player gets suspended for 6 games for his first violation, and the player gets a lifetime ban for a repeat offense), the NHL has no such regulations. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is aware of the new enforcements in the NFL, but does not believe any need to be implemented in the NHL due to their work in implementing educational courses and counseling for the athletes.

The case is being compared by the media to the domestic violence case against Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avalanche goaltender. Varlamov was charged with abusing his girlfriend during the 2013-2014 season, but continued to play with the Avalanche and suffered no discipline from the league. The charges were later dropped due to “reasonable doubt.”

With the new attention being given to these cases, the media is questioning how the NHL handled Varlomov’s case last season. Ken Campbell of The Hockey News says about that case, “…the league kept its distance from the situation.” They seem to have a different attitude towards the Voynov case.

The sport media is asking the big question, “Why is this case different?”

The most obvious answer is that the climate regarding domestic abuse cases regarding athletes has drastically changed since the Ray Rice incident and the NFL’s failure to correctly respond. The NHL does not want to risk making a similar mistake; and the suspension is justified through the recently re-negotiated CBA which allows the league to suspend a player who is subject to a criminal investigation.

While the sport media has been covering this story as thoroughly as possible, the NHL themselves has only released one short statement regarding the situation, including a quote from the Kings organization regarding how concerning this event is to the team.

As this situation progresses, the NHL should act proactively to keep fans and other players updated to ensure that they are fully informed through a reliable source.

The Ray Rice Saga and Roger Goodell’s Authority

This is the first in an ongoing series of guest posts by those in academia and in the professional world of sport. Our first guest is Dr. Sungho Cho Ph.D/J.D., a Professor of Sport Law at Bowling Green State University. 

It has been one of the most tumultuous NFL seasons due to the TMZ video that made Ray Rice, at least momentarily, a jobless athlete in spite of his stellar performance statistics and a Super Bowl ring.

When Commissioner Roger Goodell initially imposed the two-game suspension on Rice for his personal misconduct in Atlantic City during the summer, various mass media pointed out that the level of punishment was not commensurate with the reprehensible conduct. For instance, an ESPN columnist, Jane McManus wrote that “[i]t’s a joke, and a bad one.” Fans wonder how Rice was suspended a couple of games while use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) or repeatedly smoking marijuana would result in much harsher penalties, i.e., automatic suspension for six-games and the entire season, respectively. After the TMZ video disclosed what really happened in the elevator, the Commissioner suspended Rice indefinitely. The case is now pending in the league grievance process. Recently, the Commissioner announced an enhanced penalty structure for personal conduct cases.

A plethora of legal questions are associated with this case. How was Rice initially suspended two games while other infractions that were seemingly not so serious (using PEDs) resulted in stiffer penalties? What about the Fifth Amendment Double Jeopardy rule? Can the Commissioner and the Ravens sanction Rice twice for the same misconduct? Since most mass media obscured such issues, this entry briefly explores them in the context of the legal aspects of the incident.

While the use of recreational and performance-enhancing drugs is strictly governed by the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the league and the players union, personal conduct cases are subject to the Commissioner’s broad authority. Thus, the initial two game suspension might not be inconsistent with any league regulations or rules of law even though it raised, without a doubt, a set of ethical and moral questions. The case is not covered by the Fifth Amendment Double Jeopardy rule because the current incident is not a criminal case. The rule only applies to a criminal case involved with state or federal government.

Although there is no double jeopardy issue here, Rice and the union’s on-going grievance claim might have regulatory grounds under Article 46 of the CBA. The provision states: “[o]ne Penalty: [t]he Commissioner and a Club will not both discipline a player for the same act or conduct. The Commissioner’s disciplinary action will preclude or supersede disciplinary action by any Club for the same act or conduct.” Rice was released by the Ravens and suspended by the league. Pursuant to the CBA, the grievance case will be heard and decided by an arbitrator. Recently, the league and union agreed to choose a neutral arbitrator for the case just like the famous New Orleans Saints bounty case. If the arbitrator construes “discipline” in the CBA provision broadly, Rice and the union’s challenge might have merits.

How about the legitimacy of the initial two-game suspension and additional (indefinite) suspension later imposed by the Commissioner? Since the CBA does not expressly prohibit double sanctions like the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution does, the Commissioner was in fact allowed to impose another sanction upon the newly discovered aggravating evidence that was arguably further “detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the National Football League,” i.e., the elevator video. Thus, there will be some factual disputes down the road whether the Commissioner had knowledge about the content of the elevator video when he decided the first sanction and whether Rice provided misleading information about the case when he met with the Commissioner during the summer to plead his case. It is also notable that the Commissioner’s discipline can be challenged in the court of law (pretty hard though) if Rice or the union can demonstrate that the Commissioner’s decision was “arbitrary or capricious.”

While media have extensively covered the factual background and sociocultural issues of the case, the above-mentioned legal aspects have mostly been ignored. At least, media should have sent some reporters who could cover and explicate such legal aspects of the case in depth since it was essentially an incident associated with criminal charges.