Ray Ratto: ‘Disciplinary System Is Flawed At Its Base’
All right, Mr. Sunshine.
Ray Rice. Two games.
“Being as incredibly cynical as I am, it makes perfect sense to me because the NFL will stand for pretty much anything if it fits into the talent-tolerance scale,” CSN Bay Area columnist Ray Ratto said on The John Feinstein Show. “Ray Rice is a good player. Ray Rice, for whatever else you want to say about him, is important to the Baltimore Ravens. And I think that no matter how you define what your disciplinary system is, if you cannot find a way to give him more than a two-game suspension for what he did, then your disciplinary system is flawed at its base.”
“It’s a statement,” Ratto continued. “It’s a statement of what you will tolerate. And since I believe that if Ray Rice were a special teamer that he would no longer be employed by the Baltimore Ravens, it seems clear to me that this is how the NFL operates – and there are hundreds of other examples of the same thing. Players are viewed as tools, and the most effective tools get the greatest care. You will find whatever justification you need to find to make your punishment of one of those very important tools a slight as possible.”
“This is not a union thing. This is nothing but, ‘Ray Rice can play, and my hands are tied.’ And that can’t fly. It can’t fly if you planned to be a good citizen. It certainly can’t fly if you’re doing PSAs for the NFL. But it also doesn’t surprise me a bit.”
Indeed, the more important you are, the more you can get away with. We see this all the time in sports, and the NFL, it appears, is no different.
“Jimmy Haslam can’t be touched,” Ratto said. “Jim Irsay probably won’t be touched. Ray Rice, two games for beating up a girl. The message is clear – and no amount of dancing around by the National Football League will change that. This is what they stand for. This is what they will tolerate. And it depends entirely not on the victim and not on the deed, but on the perpetrator. Period.”
Given that Roger Goodell spends so much time trying to convince the public that the NFL has a social conscience, didn’t he blow a huge opportunity here?
“Well, two things,” Ratto said. “Roger Goodell does not operate in a vacuum. He is not the most powerful person in the National Football League. He works for 32 owners. But beyond that, the message that you have to send to your 32 employers is that, ‘Okay, you have an important player here who’s done something heinous. I, however, will protect your asset for you.’ That’s the other message. And whether it’s written into the disciplinary code or he just did this because he was guessing what they wanted, it is clear that that’s what it is. I’m not pointing this at Roger Goodell alone. This is a statement of the National Football League and its 32 constituent owners.”