In news today that was mostly (but not totally) condemned as tone-deaf and inappropriate, the NFL suspended Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for two games, but no preseason games, practices, or training camp activities, and docked his pay for a third game, for beating his then-fiancee, Janay, until she was unconscious and dragging her out of an elevator at an Atlantic City casino this February. That the NFL has a serious domestic abuse problem became frighteningly clear at Rice’s post-beating press conference (which I unfortunately had to highlight here). Today’s mild sanction did nothing to change that nauseating narrative.
Deadspin put together a list of “other notable NFL suspensions,” which offers some context for Rice’s two-game sanction. If you want to read the list, with all of the details and circumstances, it’s available here. I’ve attempted to distill the list to the basics below.
- Stanley Wilson, for cocaine abuse, following two prior full-season suspensions for the same activity. 1989.
- Michael Vick, for pleading guilty to involvement in dog-fighting ring. 2007.
- Effective suspension: two games (reinstatement, 2009).
- Adam Jones, for numerous police run-ins, including being present at a strip club where a shooting occurred. 2007.
- Donte Stallworth, for pleading guilty to DUI manslaughter. 2009.
- Jonathan Vilma, for participation in the New Orleans Saints bounty program. 2012.
- Effective suspension: five games (suspension overturned, 2012).
- Daryl Washington, for second positive drug test. 2014.
- Chris Henry, for violation of personal conduct policy, following prior two-game suspension for positive marijuana test, and other arrests for weapons, DUI, and serving alcohol to minors. 2007.
- Tank Johnson, for possessing unregistered firearms and violating probation. 2007.
- Anthony Hargrove, for participation in Saints bounty program. 2012.
- Justin Blackmon, for second violation of substance abuse policy (likely marijuana). 2013.
- Ben Roethlisberger, for being accused (charges dropped) of sexual assault. 2010.
- Effective suspension: four games (reduced, 2010).
- Albert Haynesworth, for stomping on another player’s unprotected head during a game. 2006.
- Terrelle Pryor, for NCAA violations.
- Plaxico Burress, for shooting himself in the leg. 2008.
- Will Smith, for participation in Saints bounty program. 2012.
- Effective suspension: zero games (suspension overturned, 2012).
- LaVon Brazill, for positive drug (likely marijuana) test. 2014.
- Vincent Jackson, for second DUI arrest in three years. 2010.
- Cedric Benson, for arrest on misdemeanor assault charges (bar fight). 2011.
- Effective suspension: one game (reduced, 2011).
- Scott Fujita, for participation in Saints bounty program. 2012.
- Aaron Berry, for two arrests– pointing a gun at people in public and DUI– in one month. 2012.
- Charles Martin, for a hard tackle on a quarterback during a game. 1986.
- Ndamukong Suh, for stomping on a player’s arm during a game. 2011.
- Brandon Meriweather, for multiple head-to-head hits during games. 2013.
- Ray Rice, for domestic abuse. 2014.
The Sports On Earth folks have put together essentially a (more complete) graphical expression of the above:
Comparative analyses like these aren’t fun, but the variable severity of sanctions is appropriately taken as an indication of the views and opinions of the sanctioning body. Here, it constitutes evidence of priorities that appear, no matter how you present them, wholly out of order.
A case study in comparative NFL politics