Now that Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice has answered questions from reporters, there are ones that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell still needs to answer. Goodell is scheduled to meet with reporters this weekend in Canton, Ohio, during Hall of Fame festivities.
Here are five questions for Goodell regarding the controversial two-game suspension for Rice:
Why has the NFL been so lenient on domestic violence cases? Goodell said in 2012 that he was going to take a tougher stance on domestic violence. But Rice's suspension is shorter than the ones given to those who repeatedly use marijuana. Of course, suspensions for violating the substance abuse policy are collectively bargained. Still, the NFL would have sent a stronger message with a harsher suspension of Rice. Maybe it's time to structure suspensions for violations under the personal conduct policy, too.
Was there anything on the tape that impacted your decision? It's assumed that Goodell has seen the video from the elevator where the alleged altercation between Rice and his then-fiancee took place. If so, he needs to explain how the contents on that tape factored into Rice's punishment. One reason the NFL is losing in the court of public opinion is because people saw Rice dragging out Janay Palmer from the elevator. Rice refused to talk about what happened that night, so that remains the biggest question remaining in this incident.
How much did the meeting with Rice and Janay Palmer influence you? There have been reports that Rice's wife asked Goodell for leniency, which Rice denied during his news conference. This has drawn criticism because victims shouldn't be put in a situation where they defend their attacker. Some contend that the NFL needs to hold their players accountable for their actions, regardless of what others say on their behalf.
Do you fear the league will lose female fans as a result? The biggest growth potential for the league's fan base has been women. The NFL says women make up about 45 percent of its fan base, and Nielsen reported 35 percent of viewers of regular-season games last season were women. The NFL says sales of women's apparel have tripled in the past four years. The backlash on how the league views violence against women could hit the NFL in its wallet.
What do you say to critics who argue that you gave Rice two games to pave the way for a lenient punishment of Colts owner Jim Irsay? Goodell was put in a major predicament when Irsay was arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated and with a controlled substance in his body. The punishment for Irsay will be measured by the discipline that Goodell has given to players. Would Goodell give Rice a lighter suspension so the punishment for Irsay would appear fair?