I reacted as most people seemed to when Goodell announced that “he got it wrong” with Ray Rice and is now installing a new system of punishment for domestic abuse, one which sees a 6 game suspension for the 1st offense, and a indefinite suspension for the second. While they aren’t going to suddenly punish Rice even further it’s nice to see they are taking steps to ensure that future incidents aren’t so light. This is great, I’m happy, nice to see them listen for once.

Then I sat and thought about it for a while, and re-read the statement multiple times. I’m less enthused now, because the more I read it the less I trust it, and the more it really just feels like a PR move meant to try and save face after the disastrous blowback the NFL has been getting for months over it’s incredibly poor handling of Rice. I’ve seen Ray Rice trend on twitter so many times these past few months, and only half of them happened when Ray Rice news broke, most of it came when other players got punished and people started pointing out the hypocrisy.  Barry Petchesky did a nice piece for Deadspin about this new policy, and why it’s suspect. Basically he points out that they seem to present this as a policy change, when in fact it really isn’t one. There was no real policy for domestic abuse prior to this, and Goodell had the power to institute any punishment he wanted. He could have suspended Ray Rice for 6 games to begin with. In the letter, he also quotes that the 6 games could change depending on “mitigating factors”, which is exact argument most people, including the NFL, have used to defend the small Rice punishment. Mitigating factors like “well she hit him first” and is also being charged. If these factors are going to be taken into account every time, then nothing much has changed and players will get whatever the NFL feels like dishing out, which is exactly what it was beforehand.

It also makes me wonder how they will determine things, what’s the starting block? When does it become an offense? The player being charged criminally? Or just suspected? Is the player being damned in the court of public opinion without any charges (like Big Ben was) or without any solid evidence (like the morons who kept blaming Kaepernick for that one non-incident this summer?). Will they do a private investigation themselves to determine the guilt? What’s the starting point here? The NFL has been so inconsistent in how it enforces punishment for conduct so far that I legitimately have no idea. There are no real guidelines now, just as there weren’t before. I guess now we have an expectation point of 6 games, which is a start, but nothing indicating it’ll be a hard 6 games.

It all comes down to this move basically revealing itself as the NFL trying to backpedal from the Rice PR disaster and look like they really want to bring the hammer down, when in reality the situation is more or less the same. I do think this policy and admittance of screw up is a positive step in the right direction, but as of right now the question is how big of a step it actually is. When you look beneath the surface statement, you begin to wonder.

However they seem to be in talks of fixing the Weed drug test restrictions, so that’s a good thing, because holy hell did Josh Gordon get screwed. Gordon is a dummy, but man those rules need some serious fixing.