The Baltimore Ravens terminated the contract of Ray Rice today just hours after TMZ released new footage which showed the running back cold-cock his then-fiancé (now wife) Janay Palmer in an elevator. Shortly after the Ravens announcement, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued Rice an indefinite suspension from the league.
Footage also showed Rice lightly kicking and dragging an unconscious Palmer from the elevator bank.
The incident, which occurred in an Atlantic City casino parking garage back in January, caused many to question the NFL's inconsistent enforcement of it's personal conduct policy. Rice was initially docked just two games—a punishment that paled in comparison to Josh Gordon's full-season suspension for smoking marijuana. (Reason contributor Ken Silva commented on the NFL's curious decision-making process here.) Backlash against Goodell's weak punishment eventually led the NFL to develop stricter penalties for domestic violence incidents.
News of Rice's fate spread quickly through social media as many fans reacted with a collective "What took so long?!" and disgust with the NFL's botched handling of the situation. Former and current NFL players also expressed outrage and some demanded Rice be banned from the sport.
Ray Rice's saga serves to illuminate the problem of violence in football. Since the last Superbowl, 30 players have been arrested or charged for a variety of crimes. (When TMZ usurps your sports league in moral authority, something has gone amiss.) The NFL's moral lapse is particularly appalling considering that the league enjoys federal tax-exempt status (yet, the NFL grossed an estimated $9 billion in profits last year) and pockets millions in giveaways from local taxpayers in the form of sweetheart stadium deals.
And while we're on the subject of morality, the NCAA waited for news of Ray Rice's suspension to stealthily announce that it was reinstating Penn State's football postseason status and scholarships that were lost in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal after determining that the university had made "significant progress toward ensuring its athletics department functions with integrity." As Ryan Abraham of USCFootball.com points out, Penn State's sanctions for covering up child molestation and abuse were ultimately less than the penalty USC received after it was found that Reggie Bush accepted gifts from a family friend.
Just a banner day for football all around.