These past two weeks have been filled with more fumbles and bad calls than last year's 49ers-Seahawks playoff games. Let's begin with NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell's decision to only penalize Baltimore Raven's running back Ray Rice with a two-game suspension and $500,000 fine for beating his wife. During a press conference on Friday, Goodell missed the chance to recover the suspension fumble by further defending his decision and attributing Rice's two-game suspensions to similar incidents involving first time offenders like Rice.
Truth is Rice's suspension was only one of several bad calls made by Goodell, the first of which was allowing Janay Rice to join his meeting with Ray Rice to discuss the attack. To add further insult to injury, a press conference was held with Ray and Janay Rice and we all witnessed first hand what happens when a domestic violence victim sits next to her attacker and has to listen to him discuss the attack - she apologies for anything she did to provoke him.
Over at ESPN, sports commentator, Stephen Smith made the mistake of punting blame from domestic violence offenders to domestic violence victims. Smith's comments were met with loud boos from the stands and eventually ESPN benched him for a week.
With that being said, not every football fan was offended with Rice. On Monday, Rice received two ovations from fans during open practice. There were even fans proudly wearing Rice's jersey, women and children included.
After reviewing the footage and analyzing a series of bad plays since Janay Rice's attack, it's clear that the victims of domestic violence whose attackers play for professional sports associations are in desperate need of a strong defensive lineup.
In order to tackle the bad judgement of people like Rice, Goodell and Smith, the frontline defense will require the strength of four female CEOs whose companies are NFL, MLB and NBA sponsors. They include Denise Morrison, Campbell Soup Co.; Susan Wellington, Gatorade; Mary Barra, General Motors; and Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo.
The second line of defense will need players with a vested interest in all three associations, including female franchise owners. And last but certainly not last, leaders in the domestic violence prevention and anti-violence against women movement including the National Network to End Domestic Violence, UN Women, V-Day and Jane Doe would best serve the cornerback and safety positions.
If we are going to prevent the domestic violence offense from scoring, this kind of defensive lineup will need many others cheering them on from the sidelines, including player's unions, elected officials and sports fans. Without this type of united front against domestic violence, women like Janay Rice will continue to be victimized by inappropriate post-assault behavior and language.
When it comes to protecting victims and holding abusers accountable, many communities and law enforcement agencies throughout the country work together to develop coordinated system/community responses. Our professional sports associations should adopt this same approach when having to manage the violent behavior of their players.
Ultimately, an offender's punishment cannot soley be subject to the discretion of the sports commissioner. If an organization like the NFL truly believes that domestic violence is unacceptable, they will institute a policy that does not base the severity of the punishment on whether it was a first time offense and/or the attacker's level of community engagement.
Domestic violence victims should not only have to depend on our criminal justice system in order for justice to be served. There is absolutely a role for an offender's employer to play as well. In the event one system fails, another system needs to put in place to condone violent behavior. Here's hoping that amongst all of our so called "sports champions" and "corporate leaders" we can find a real hero.