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NFL Suspensions are Important, Regardless of Possible Future Implications

News has come down that there’s a strong possibility that Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott will be suspended for a legal incident from July 2016. He was ultimately not charged due to conflicting and inconsistent evidence, per CBS Sports. Punishment by the league is still looming.

Conflicting opinions are circulating throughout the NFL community, some supporting the suspension and some stating that the fact that charges were dropped means that Elliott deserves to avoid any further reprisal. Arguments can be made on either side of this incident, but an article posted on “Blogging the Boys” via SB Nation made a bold statement that if Elliott is suspended, it will open up all NFL players for attacks from anyone who decides they have a grudge against them.

What a load of crap

Let me just say what a load of crap this is. That is a total cop-out and a seemingly personal statement about the poor decision-making skills of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. While most can agree that Goodell’s choices are, at best, questionable, the sheer fact that the NFL is still willing to conduct an independent investigation is commendable. The fact that they are completely inconsistent about it is deplorable.

Yes, they could get sued

America is a great country. You have the right to say what you want, behave how you want within the confines of the law, and sue anyone for anything. A suspension or lack thereof does not negate that fact. Remember that OJ Simpson thing? Fancy legal maneuvering found him not guilty of a brutal double homicide, but 12 other people found him civilly liable for those deaths. Simpson is a great example of how someone’s behavior can be a window into a person’s future behavior. It was well-known that he beat his wife, and his life spiraled down so far that he did end up in jail. He is currently serving a 33 year sentence for robbery. He’s up for parole this year. But by all means, let’s give the man a pass. Sense the sarcasm, please.

Now back to Elliott

One thing that needs to be pointed out in this particular situation is that inappropriate treatment of women by Elliott is not an abnormal occurrence, as his behavior has shown. He hasn’t suffered any consequences for his offensive behavior during a St. Patrick’s day parade this year, when he pulled a woman’s top down, exposing her breast. This was caught on tape. Are people calling for his head on that? No. But I wonder, would it be ok for him to do to your sister, your girlfriend, or your mom? My guess is no. Any respectable person would agree.

Most recently, a report came down that Elliott was involved in an altercation on Sunday night at a Dallas bar. No charges have been filed but there were two unrelated reports stating that the running back punched a man in the face, breaking his nose. He is innocent until proven guilty, but this certainly doesn’t help his case that he’s not a violent person.

With this now at the forefront of NFL news, it’s important that journalists introduce a responsible narrative about it. Constructive discussion is important, wherein all key points can be analyzed and addressed logically. While my particular opinion is clear in the is piece, I have supported that opinion with information available to anyone smart enough to use any search engine on the web. That’s where this piece differs from a few of those out that with such an irresponsible implication, including the post from SB Nation.

If we are at a point in this country that we would either prosecute OR pardon someone to avoid possible future behavior, we’ve lost sight of a blind justice system. No one should be convicted of something they might do. But we all have to answer for what we have done. We’re responsible for ourselves in the here and now, and for everything leading up to it.

To say that NFL players are going to be vulnerable to legal action or blackmail if this man receives a suspension is to say that the players deserve favorable treatment, that they’re above the law. They get away with enough as it is without letting them skate for violating league policy.

So what did the article say that was so wrong?

Simple. They caught themselves in a circle that looped back around and directly refuted their claim of opening the players up, by citing an incident with Robert Griffin III, in which he was contacted by someone trying to extort money. Griffin contacted authorities and the offender was jailed. To tell anyone that his behavior was somehow incorrect is just ignorant. Giving Elliott a pass certainly does set a precedent. Rather, it continues a very poor precedent of not handing down proper punishment for offenders. If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime on the field or off.

Let’s take a look at another situation involving an incoming rookie. Gareon Conley was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in spite of an active investigation regarding an alleged sexual assault. The difference here? Conley has been actively and openly cooperating with the investigation every step of the way. He’s offered his DNA, consented to a lie detector test, and he’s been in for questioning each and every time they’ve requested. This doesn’t seem like a man who’s hiding anything, he’s been transparent since day one, minute one. This is how someone who is not guilty of anything should act. Will he be blackmailed? No one can say but given his behavior, it is unreasonable to believe that it would go anywhere.

There are ways to avoid potential legal or financial issues. How about act like an adult? Be someone that your mom would be proud of. Act like the NFL role model that you are paid to be. Most of all, act like a man. Men know when they’ve crossed a line and they’re willing to say that they’ve made a mistake and pay the price for it. Because the price to these guys is so much higher than that of the everyday working man means that they should focus that much harder on being the man the rest of us expect them to be. Stop being a child, Ezekiel Elliott, and accept that your actions have consequences, regardless of your yards per carry or number of rushing touchdowns.

 

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