From Face Stomps to Bounties to Elevator Beatings: A Review of Suspensions Under Roger Goodell


Plenty of people are up in arms over the Ray Rice suspension announced today. Two games.

While there are plenty of complaints about the apparent disconnect when a player can miss a full season for testing positive for marijuana (after multiple positives) and where a player can beat on his wife and only get two games, keep in mind they are different. Substance abuse suspensions are handled under the collective bargaining agreement and are very detailed and not subject to Goodell deciding individual cases. (I detailed some of the scenarios under that policy in regard to Von Miller last year.)

Let’s also be honest: the world is full of inconsistencies when it comes to punishment and reward for things that occurred. Different jurisdictions punish different crimes differently, and any number of punishments may seem to not fit the crime at a gut level. Also, it’s really hard to set penalties that would satisfy everyone.

That said, let’s take a look at actual suspensions that have been handed down by the league and Goodell, since he became commissioner, beyond those covered in the league substance policies. A couple of notes–these are games served, and not the initial suspension, and year is the first year of suspension, not necessarily underlying incident.

So, in the NFL world, repeated offenses draw more discipline. Bounties are a big deal. Getting free tattoos is far more serious than domestic violence.

If you want to look at it from a different perspective, this is a punishment for a violent act against a woman. Plenty of such incidents, that were not charged, went without discipline. The difference is that there was videotape of this one. Let’s face it, for better or worse, we react differently when we see something rather than just read or hear about it. Take the Mike Rice suspension and later firing at Rutgers. The news of that incident came out in December and he was suspended. It wasn’t until the video emerged, though, that the outrage began.

If we want to compare it to other incidents of violent acts where there was video, though, it still comes up short. Ray Rice was punished the same as Ndamukong Suh for stomping on Evan Dietrich-Smith on Thanksgiving in front of a national audience. He was suspended far less than Albert Haynesworth was for stomping on Andre Gurode’s face.

At the time, early in his tenure, Goodell said: “There is absolutely no place in the game, or anywhere else, for the inexcusable action that occurred in yesterday’s Titans-Cowboys game.”

The same can be said for what happened in an elevator in Atlantic City.