National Football League

Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson: Drawing the Line between Courts and Commissioners

English: Baltimore Ravens Training Camp August...

(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

As professional sports leagues and the athletes they employ garner a higher public profile, there have been increasing demands, from media, lawmakers and the public that they be held to a higher standard of conduct.  Athletes have come under greater scrutiny, both on and off the playing surface, with each instance of misbehavior sparking a greater outcry than the last.  However, is there a public good served by publicly vilifying athletes for off-the-field or off-the-court indiscretions?

Moreover, do professional sports leagues, like the NFL, have the competence or right to impose punishment on players in response to public outcry, either before the player has had his day in a court of law, or after the courts have decided not to pursue criminal charges?

Two recent cases of note involve former Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Ray Rice and Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

Rice was arrested earlier this year for allegedly punching his then fiancee unconscious at an Atlantic City casino.  A New Jersey grand jury indicted Rice on a charge of aggravated assault, which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.  The charge was later dropped when Rice agreed to enter court-supervised counseling, and he eventually married his fiancée, the alleged victim in the case.  Despite the decision of the courts, the media outcry continued, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell responded by levying a two-game suspension against Rice, just days before a TMZ video of the assault was made public.

Furthermore, as the betting would suggest, the video stoked further outrage, putting Goodell in the uncomfortable position of exacting harsh punishment on a player for non-football related offenses that a court of law deemed not severe enough to bring to trial.  Goodell dropped the hammer on Rice, suspending him indefinitely, while the Ravens terminated his contract, likely ending his NFL career.

In Peterson’s case, the 2012 NFL MVP was recently suspended by the Vikings following his indictment by a Texas grand jury on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child.  Peterson did not deny the allegations, explaining that he applied the same method of discipline on his son that had been applied to him as a boy. While it is understandable that the public is shocked by such actions, demands for the NFL to act where the courts have not place a burden on the NFL that it is simply not capable of carrying.  The NFL is a private enterprise that exists for the primary and legitimate purpose of making money.  It lacks the experience, competence, and mandate to exact justice fairly and in accordance with the law.

While fists have been shaken at the NFL’s perceived bumbling of the Rice case, a surprising modicum of outrage has been directed towards the New Jersey court that chose to drop the charges against Rice.

Adrian Peterson has received little to no benefit of doubt prior to getting his day in court.

NFL players have been arrested at a rate of approximately one per week in 2014, and we’ve witnessed no shortage of high-profile college football players who have faced charges that were conveniently made to disappear.  It’s a worrisome trend for every member of society, whether he or she is a football fan or not. However, such offenses are best addressed in court—where the accused player both answers to the law and is protected by it.  If the courts don’t punish a player for alleged offenses, the commissioner of the NFL cannot do it for them, no matter how vociferous the howls of media outrage become.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Tyrann Mathieu and Albany State University Are a Great Fit

Tyrann Mathieu

Recently, Tyrann Mathieu, a talented Louisiana State University (LSU) defensive back and punt return specialist, was dismissed from LSU for violating team and university rules.  After the decision was reached by administrative officials at LSU, Tyrann Mathieu started looking for eligible schools he could attend.  It has been reported that he is seriously considering attending McNeese State UniversityAlbany State University offers Tyrann Mathieu the greater opportunity to demonstrate his talent and get his life together, however.

By attending Albany State University, this will move him a long distance away from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Albany State University is located in Albany, Georgia.  In Albany, Georgia, Mr. Mathieu will be situated in a city with good values and in a city with denizens who will not allow him to allow himself to handle his fame recklessly.  Mike White, Albany State University Head Football Coach, is a no-nonsense guy and coach who will not treat Tyrann any different than any other player on his team.  Mr. Mathieu will have to run through those gruesome sand dunes on one of the practice fields at Albany State University.

Albany State University is the most successful team in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC).  At Albany State University, he will receive the right amount of publicity, benefit from coaches who are truly going to be committed to making him better on the field, in the classroom, and off the field, and he will not be looked at and used as a “messiah” to save a failing football team, considering Albany State University is the most successful football team and athletic program in the SIAC.  Albany State University’s football team is a perennial National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II power.

Albany State University

 

At McNeese State University, Tyrann Mathieu will be expected to be a “messiah” for an average at best team.  It simply makes sense for him to select a school with a football program that has a winning tradition as the one he is leaving at LSU.  With that in mind, Albany State University would be an excellent choice.  He would leave one winning football program and go to another winning football program.  Mr. Mathieu must think about the reason why his great talents have been noticed: he’s been on great football teams.  By going to McNeese State University or any of the other schools it has been reported that he may select, including Jackson State University, he runs the risk of National Football League (NFL) scouts not gaining the best opportunity to assess his skills and his NFL stock could suffer even more if he’s on a team that’s nothing special.

A union between Albany State University and Tyrann Mathieu makes great sense.  Make it happen!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Open Letter to NFL Owners

Dear NFL Owners:

The purpose of this missive is to implore you to end your attempts to gain an even greater share of revenues at the expense of millions of fans across the nation and globe who love and enjoy National Football League (NFL) athletic competition. At a time when we face great global economic turmoil, you are not showing fans any remorse by being avaricious. As you continue to look to mollify your own selfish interests, you only cause global morale to sink further. While I am not willing to completely agree with some players who claim that you are treating them like “modern slaves,” I do posit that you do economically exploit the professional athletes who work for you. It’s a derisory postulation for players to try to present themselves as “modern slaves” when they are millionaires. This faulty argument made by some NFL players, however, does not let you off the hook.

You make significantly more money off of the labor these professional athletes provide for you. It’s only greed that continues to motivate you to want more and more money for yourself. When people are struggling just to put food in their mouth, you are thinking only about how you can obtain more money to purchase yet another yacht or luxury automobile.

For many people across the globe, the only luxury they have is pulling up a chair to their television and watching an NFL game on Sunday. Because you cannot let your selfishness and insatiable appetite for money go, you are threatening to take away this luxury for people across the globe.

Do you not care anything about the health of your players? By extending the regular football season two games, this increases the likelihood of your players incurring season-ending injuries. The current 16 game regular season is already arduous enough for athletes. To help you to pay for your huge stadiums and bring in more ticket revenues, you would rather mortgage their health. Have you no scruples? The health of NFL players is more important than your bottom line.

You should go back to the negotiating table with NFL players with a serious mindset resolved to reach an equitable agreement with them. Have you ever heard of equity before?

If you prevent people across the globe, especially the American people, from watching their favorite athletes on television and in person, they will make you pay by turning a blind eye to you when football begins the next year that you come to an agreement with the players. Consumers will remember that when they were hurting the most, you took away something that offers comfort to them. I hope that you don’t think that consumers are unsophisticated and gullible. They know that you are responsible for this lockout.

Make a commitment today to reach a solemn agreement with the players, so that football fans can have an assurance that they will be able to witness another great season of NFL football. You may think that you are going to war with the NFL players, but you are really going to war with the fans, and I’m confident that we will inevitably have the last word with you about what we think about your conspicuous selfishness. Do the right thing!

Sincerely,

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Longing for Condoleezza Rice to be NFL Commissioner

While you might have not liked Dr. Condoleezza Rice as a member of the Bush Administration, you might just like her as a replacement for the current National Football League (NFL) Commissioner, Roger Goodell. Roger Goodell is so horrible that I’m willing to give anyone an opportunity to do a better job than him. Dr. Rice certainly could not do any worse. Since Dr. Rice is a conservative, you can expect her to make decisions that will be good for the economic well-being of the NFL. Therefore, she knows that allowing the football players to actually play football sells tickets. With this in mind, I would anticipate that she would not punish and fine players for simply delivering good football hits. Roger Goodell is currently moving the NFL closer to a flag football league. Mr. Goodell, the NFL is for grown men—act like it!

Dr. Condoleezza Rice has expressed many times that her dream job is to become the NFL Commissioner http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B05EFDE1F3CF934A25757C0A9649C8B63.

For liberals who usually like to see government play a more active role in the people’s lives but who would like to see the NFL Commissioner play a less active role in how players play the game, you might just be pleased to see a conservative Dr. Condoleezza Rice assume this position. The more “hands-off” approach of conservatives could be just what we need to improve much of what’s wrong with how Roger Goodell is managing the NFL.

Dr. Rice is a highly accomplished woman. She’s certainly one of the smartest persons in the world that I know. As President George W. Bush’s Secretary of State and National Security Advisor, she has had to handle problems that are much more difficult and important than those that occur in the NFL. She, therefore, has the necessary preparation for solving problems and responding to great challenges to be an effective NFL Commissioner.

I know that some people’s strong dislike of this woman politically will not even allow them to consider supporting her as the NFL Commissioner. I just would like you to know that as NFL Commissioner she would not be handling serious issues pertaining to war and peace. It’s important for us to keep an open mind about many things in life. When we’re not willing to keep an open mind about phenomena in life, we could really miss out on some great things.

Think about how wonderful it would be to have an African-American woman as the NFL Commissioner. The fact she is a woman and African-American would send such a positive and much needed message about diversity throughout the NFL, sports, America, and world.

Even if you don’t like Dr. Condoleezza Rice politically, I encourage you to entertain the idea of supporting her as a possible future NFL Commissioner. The NFL is making some progress with advancing, retaining, and hiring African-Americans in leadership positions, although it’s very inadequate progress. The presence of Dr. Condoleezza Rice in this position would convey a strong message that the NFL truly welcomes African-Americans in leadership positions.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Sometimes You’re Going to Finish in Second Place

Recently, my Pittsburgh Steelers lost to the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl. This game caused me to reflect on how sometimes people do things better than others. It’s just a fact. You can be great and others can still do things better than you. It’s vital to understand that you are not going to come in first place at everything. The Steelers’ defeat in the Super Bowl also made me think about how important it is to recognize how thankful you should be to be in second place. In most situations, second place is not an awful place to be in at all. For example, many other teams in the National Football League (NFL) didn’t make it to the Super Bowl. They would have loved to have had an opportunity to be in the game. The Steelers finished in second place overall but first place in the American Football Conference (AFC). The Steelers are the reigning AFC Champions! You should not overlook the greatness in your second place to someone else on certain aspects in life. We all come in second place to someone on something. There’s no need to become frustrated with this or to try to fight against it.

When someone can do something better than you, acknowledge that he or she can. People will admire you for recognizing what others can do better than you. I’m not suggesting for you to simply desire to come in second place all of the time—not at all! Even if you don’t try to come in first place at something, you will because some aspect of your life is far greater than that same aspect in others’ lives. You can do something that’s better than others. You simply have to acknowledge, discover, and embrace your first place things.

You don’t have to become envious of those people who finish ahead of you. When you do the best you can do, learn to accept this. Always strive to improve yourself but know that with even all of the striving to become better in the world someone is still going to be better than you in something. You’re not a failure when you finish in second place. Sometimes second place is where you need to be to help you to grow to where you should be in not only that specific area where you finished in second place, but also to buttress and burgeon other areas of your life that don’t even qualify to finish in second place to anyone.

When you come in second place, you don’t have to let us know that you’re in second place. Don’t let your actions communicate that you’re saying, “I know you’re better than me at this, but I’m in second place to you and please know that!” The person in first place does not need to see and/or hear you communicate this. The first place person will simply see that there’s something larger going on with you and something larger wrong with you that is causing you to act in such a way.

I come in second place to many people on many things but I don’t envy them. I have a firm understanding that I cannot do everything, be everything, know everything, and control everything. Life will be much more enjoyable when more people learn that there’s always going to be someone better than them at something. I might not have offered any real novel knowledge in this piece, but what this piece does is call all of us to improve, learn, know, do, be, and control the things we can and don’t worry about those things that we cannot. Don’t live your life chasing and concerned about finishing in first place in areas of life you already know you cannot.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Revolutionary Paideia December 2010 Person of the Month: Michael Vick

Each month, Revolutionary Paideia selects one person who embodies the “unsettling, unnerving, and unhousing” spirit that founded this blog. In life, we all make mistakes and we will always make mistakes as long as we live. When we make mistakes, we have to learn from them and recover from those mistakes better than ever. Michael Vick, the former quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons and current quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles, has learned from his mistakes and has a truly powerful comeback success story. Michael Vick went to prison and served his time for dog fighting. Since he has been released from prison for dog fighting, he has worked with animal rights groups and has educated young children about the importance of treating animals properly, drawing from the lessons of his own experiences. Michael Vick has not allowed his past mistakes to keep him from being a successful quarterback in the National Football League (NFL).

Although the NFL will probably award the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award to Tom Brady, the quarterback of the New England Patriots, because he has a better team record, what Michael Vick has been able to accomplish is certainly more impressive than what Brady has done. Michael Vick is the most exciting player in the league and makes people, even those who are not Eagles fans, want to see him play. For those who questioned whether Michael Vick could ever be a good pocket-passer, he has surpassed those expectations. Vick is making all of his haters look stupid.

For those who refuse to give Michael Vick a chance to redeem himself, I find people like you to be simply ignorant. What if people never gave you a chance to redeem yourself after the many mistakes you have made? I bet you would be very unhappy about that.

I am tremendously proud of what Michael Vick has been able to accomplish this year. He has had to combat great criticism and pressures, but this negativity has not stopped Vick from being the most electrifying player in the NFL. Vick serves an example for all people who have made serious mistakes that you can come back better than ever from those mistakes if you would only give yourself the chance. Some people want Vick to crawl into a hole and never come back, but I’m glad that he has enough inner strength to not succumb to their hateful desires.

Although I have forgiven the Atlanta Falcons and Arthur Blank, owner of the Atlanta Falcons, for how unjustly they treated Michael Vick, I refuse to ever support the Falcons. I know that being from Georgia I should support the Falcons but I cannot bring myself to support an organization that exploited a man like Vick when the going got tough. The organization simply threw him under the bus. I cheer against the Falcons in every game that they play. I do this in honor of Michael Vick. I was so happy to see the Falcons lose at home against the New Orleans Saints on Monday night. I know Vick had to smile wherever he was when the Falcons lost to the Saints (#WhoDat).

It is my pleasure to name Michael Vick The Revolutionary Paideia December 2010 Person of the Month. Revolutionary Paideia encourages Vick to continue to achieve at the highest level even in the face of great hate.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Roger Goodell is a Dictator

NFL Commissioner

Roger Goodell, National Football League (NFL) Commissioner, reigns as a dictator in the NFL. The NFL needs a more democratic system of governance. What’s ironic about this situation is this anti-democratic system of governance is situated in America—the greatest democracy and beacon of hope and freedom in the world. He has all of the power to control virtually everything that happens. Although I really have not been too happy with him since how he handled the Michael Vick situation, he has went too far with his ruling on how players may hit one another during a game. I have noticed that it has made some players more timid players because they fear getting fined and suspended. Football is a tough game to play, one that will involve violent hits—that’s just the game it is. When you start limiting the natural violent hits that will occur in football, you start changing the outcomes of games and start moving it more towards flag football.

When a player suits up to play in the NFL, he knows that he is going to get hit hard—it just comes with the territory. It seems that Roger Goodell is at war with James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Since James Harrison has been outspoken against him, it seems that Goodell is trying to show him that he’d better not challenge him. James Harrison has even met with Goodell to learn what is acceptable hitting in his view, but Harrison has still been fine for a hit since that meeting. I very much appreciate Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers for being willing to unapologetically and publicly challenge Roger Goodell.  Troy Polamalu has publicly advocated for a more democratic system of governance in the NFL.

NFL fans should also voice their opinions to Roger Goodell because he is making significant changes that can dramatically damage the game that we all have come to love for years. As Kanye West says, “There’s no way one man should have all that power.” If we allow him to continue to have all of the power he has, I think that many of our great players will begin to retire, as James Harrison seriously considered. Of course, I don’t want players to intentionally attempt to use their helmets as weapons on the field, and we know when this is the case, but this does not mean that we have to fine and/or suspend a player each time there is helmet to helmet contact.

I contend that we need to move away from allowing Goodell to have all of the power to a system where he shares power with a committee of former players and coaches, which will make the governance of the NFL more democratic. Although I think that NFL players must rise up and unite behind a demand for a more democratic system of governance in the NFL, I think that the real key to making this change happen lies with us, the fans. When the fans unite and tell Roger Goodell that we have had enough of his dictatorship, he will be forced to make serious changes to the way he operates. NFL fans and players unite!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison