With each passing day, it seems the National Football League is losing more and more credibility with the public.
The same way Major League Baseball has left itself continuously open to criticism with its past and lack of steroid regulation, or the National Basketball Association with its Tim Donaghy referee scandal, Â the NFL’s reputation has suffered.
No matter what the case, sports seem to be at the center of more and more controversies. Perhaps most saddening is the fact that the leagues have all brought it upon themselves.
The University of Rhode Island may have been in a similar position back on Aug. 4 when redshirt freshman quarterback Luke Casey was arrested and accused of assaulting his girlfriend and two counts of possession of false identification.
Casey was coming off a strong performance in the URI Blue-White spring scrimmage. He led three scoring drives, throwing for one touchdown pass while rushing for two more. Casey finished the day 9-of-13 for 81 yards and also rushed eight times for 104 yards including a 41-yard touchdown on his second rushing score.
As the story broke, URI Athletic Director Thorr Bjorn immediately announced that Casey would be suspended indefinitely from the football team. With the NFL continuing to be America’s most popular sport, one would think they would have followed a similar plan of attack. However, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell originally only suspended Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for two games without pay on July 24th for allegedly striking his then-fiancee Janay Palmer in an elevator in February. This slap on the wrist caused enormous amounts of uproar from women’s rights groups, including the National Organization for Women, and the general public alike.
The Rice incident was followed up by Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy’s July conviction of assaulting a female and communicating threats. Ray McDonald continued the string of alleged offenses when he was arrested on Aug. 31 on charges of felony domestic violence.
While McDonald has continued to suit up for San Francisco until due process, Hardy has just now been disciplined for his alleged behavior. Whether it be Casey or an NFL star, there comes a time when everyone has to be held accountable for their actions. While I’m sure no one ever wants to bring these kinds of stories to light, they do happen. I also feel people deserve a second chance and can learn from mistakes. That being said, URI has since been allowed to move on and so has Casey. This is because of the university’s swift and strict actions. The Rams do not need to look back and can simply move forward.
Part of what NFL teams are doing, allowing players charged with domestic violence to take the field, may be because of the importance of winning in sports and the talent of those accused. I’m sure the Rams would gladly benefit from a talent such as Casey on a team, as they have had two winning seasons in the last 22 years and could use a boost. Someday Casey and the team could very well accomplish these goals and more.
If and when that time comes, they will have earned it. URI allowed Casey his due process like the NFL but also took care of his suspension quickly and professionally. Perhaps pro sports could learn something from URI.