Can Roger Goodell Spin The NFL's PR Storm?
Josh Brent killed a teammate.
Ray Rice allegedly knocked out his future wife in a hotel elevator.
It's from this point forward that NFL justice in the form of fines and suspensions becomes increasingly murky and open to criticism. Last week, the NFL handed Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice a two game suspension and a fine for his role in a domestic violence incident that painted the league as one that condones the behavior of its star players, regardless of what that behavior is. After all, it's a violent game, played by potentially violent men.
Some times things just happen right?
This week, former Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent will meet with Commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss his NFL Future. Cowboys owner and general manger, Jerry Jones, has already publicly stated that Brent will have a spot on the team's roster if he is permitted to play football again.
Josh Brent, you may remember, was responsible for the death of his Cowboys teammate and best friend Jerry Brown. On the night of December 8th, 2012, Brent was intoxicated and speeding with Brown as his passenger. The investigation found that Brent had reached speeds of 134 miles per hour before wrecking his vehicle and unintentionally killing Brown.
Brent was charged and ultimately convicted of intoxication manslaughter, which only adds to his history of issues with alcohol and drugs. Brent's problems with drinking and driving date back to 2009, along with failing multiple drug tests for marijuana.
But here is where the NFL has another potential PR issue on its hands. Ray Rice has entered a pretrial program that will remove his incident from his record, leaving him legally unscathed. Rice's two-game punishment is basically the only societal spanking he will receive. Given the nature of the video showing Rice pulling his unconscious wife out of an elevator, more was expected from the most powerful man in American sports.
Josh Brent on the other hand spent the 2013 season as a retiree from the league as he attempted to deal with his legal issues. Brent spent 180 days in jail to begin 2014, and he will be on probation for 10 years. Ray Rice's wife publicly appeared with him to acknowledge her role in the domestic violence incident, as well as to support her husband. The family of Jerry Brown have been the biggest supporters of Josh Brent, having asked the Cowboys to keep him in the family and pleading to the courts for leniency in the death of their son.
So what does Commissioner Goodell do?
Former NFL receiver Donte Stallworth got a year-long suspension in 2009 after his DUI manslaughter incident put him in jail for 30 days. After spending 2013 out of the NFL and serving six months in prison, Brent will have paid his debt to society. After letting off Rice so lightly and weathering that PR storm, it remains to be seen if Commissioner Goodell believes Brent has paid his debt to the league.