Some people are surprised by the NFL’s change of opinion when it saw new video of an off-season fight involving Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice. The new disciplinary action that followed against Rice makes perfect sense, though, when you think of the NFL’s relationship to video. This is a league that is used to changing its mind when its sees something from a different angle. That happens in almost every NFL game. And if the league had seen an NFL player conduct himself in a game as Rice did in the security video the NFL reviewed today, the player probably would have been banned from the league for life. Double standards are hard to defend, so Rice got roughly the same punishment he would have received had he attacked another NFL player in the same way.
There is another side to this, having to do with workplace safety. A person who has a fit of out-of-control violence in the subdued atmosphere of a casino certainly cannot be trusted to behave correctly in the unpredictable rough-and-tumble of American football. A similar attack by such a person on game day could result in a career-ending injury to a player or other NFL employee, just as Rice’s victim was lucky not to be more seriously injured. Such an incident would reflect badly on the team, the league, and the game’s broadcasters even if there were relatively little harm done. Knowing what they know now, why would the NFL or the Baltimore Ravens just stand by and wait for a second incident to happen?