Please Make It Right: My Plea to Roger Goodell and the Rest of the NFL

I love football more than I love most things. While it’s certainly not as important as say my family or friends or anything along those lines, it’s been a part of my life for all of my 24 years on this planet and, with any luck, it’ll be part of it for years to come. That being said, with all of the love I have for the game and my team and the sheer excitement it brings into my life, what’s going on in the National Football League right now literally brings tears to my eyes and a nauseating feeling to my stomach. Watching the league’s situation over the past few weeks, and all the lying and deceit that has come to light, has tarnished, more than ever before, my views of the league and leaving me with, on some level, ill-will and disheartenedness for the years to come.

Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, Ray McDonald, and Adrian Peterson? They all deserve to be suspended, or at the very least deactivated, at this instant, which the NFL should’ve done right from the beginning. Like it says in the first line of the NFL Player Conduct Policy: “All persons associated with the NFL are required to avoid “conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the National Football League.” You want to give them their due process? Deactivate them, but give them their money while an investigation is done. Don’t take away their paychecks if you don’t want, but take the ball out of their hands because at the end of the day, that’s what they really care about. You say they are required to avoid this sort of conduct, yet here they are, engaging in it and nothing has really been done to stop them.

Let’s remind you what they did. Ray Rice beat a woman, his now-wife-then-fiance, to the point where she was knocked unconscious and could’ve died. He wasn’t far off from killing her and leaving their child without a mother. Greg Hardy may actually be the worst of all of these because he was tried and convicted of assaulting an ex-girlfriend. That’s right, a member of the U.S. legal system found him to be guilty of domestic abuse. The arrest warrant said he threw her in a bathtub and strangled her, among other things. Again, he could’ve killed her. Ray McDonald was arrested on the suspicion of a domestic abuse against his fiancé, who oh yeah, was 10 weeks pregnant at the time. Adrian Peterson? He beat a 4 year old so bad that he had extensive cuts and was bleeding. That’s right, a father made his own child bleed, and then smiled about it in his mugshot, and made a statement that he did not intend to hurt him. And as of just just this evening, it may not have been the first time that’s happened. To that, I say BS.

Placing blame on how players were raised or the anger they have to switch on and off once they leave the football field is BS too. Like Cris Carter said in his impassioned statement on Sunday Countdown, “I know better now, my mom was wrong.” These grown men know the difference between right and wrong. Beating a child is not right. Striking a woman is not right. And that anger issue? I’m sorry but if you’ve been playing football your whole life, like most of these guys have, this is a non-issue. If you’ve played football since childhood, this anger/aggression thing doesn’t just randomly become a problem at the pro level. You get it in check real quick at a younger age.

Now, we know you make mistakes, like the whole Ray Rice situation. The way it was handled was a big screwup and you, thankfully, attested to that. You cannot make those mistakes again. And I personally think you say it best in your very own Player Conduct Policy, “Illegal or irresponsible conduct does more than simply tarnish the offender. It puts innocent people at risk, sullies the reputation of others involved in the game, and undermines public respect and support for the NFL.” The way these players are behaving, and seemingly not getting reprimanded for it, is hands down crapping on your reputation and is dwindling the public’s respect for the league.

So my plea to you, Roger Goodell and the NFL, is this: Please take a stand and do what’s right, instead of continuing to disappoint your fans time and time again, all in the name of winning and money. You have people out there, like myself and millions of others, that love you and support you. Right now though, you are not doing what’s right. You are putting things like keeping guys on the field and thus, more money in your pockets, above things like human decency, right and wrong, and pure being a good human-beingness. And while I haven’t broken up with you yet, I can’t say the same for other people. So please, take a stand and do what’s right, before you completely break our hearts, and leave us with no other choice but to go our separate ways too.