This has been a difficult week for the National Football League and the most popular sport in the country.
And the affairs of Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Roger Goodell have raised a series of questions and which may be difficult to answer, but which deserve our best try to do so.
The first question is about Rice, who punched the crap out of his fiancé in an elevator and knocked her out.
It’s one his fiancé (now his wife) has asked herself: Isn’t this just a private affair between the two of them and why in the world should we all be privy to this moment in time?
And, why is the media so voracious in its pursuit of every angle of this event? This answer seems so clear to me and I find it hard to understand how anyone can really believe it’s not our business.
The coin of fame is two-sided. When Rice used his fame to visit kids in a hospital or hold summer camps for underprivileged children, he welcomed and even sought media to cover his efforts. When he scored three touchdowns ran for 100 yards, he eagerly sought and accepted public adoration and media applause.
The flip side is when he behaves in a manner ill suited to a hero, he’s got to be ready to handle the shower of criticism headed his way. Think Tiger Woods, for a moment. As far as I can remember, he didn’t commit any crime but still found himself under a very public and disapproving microscope.
What Rice did was inexcusable and he should have been punished harsher the first time the NFL took action and once that new tape was released he, and those around him, needed to understand that the barrage against him was part of his deal.
Then there is the case of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson who was immediately deactivated Sunday after being indicted for child abuse after he "whooped" his 4-year-old son with a switch. (The team reinstated him Monday.)
The beating ended up with bruises on the boy’s buttocks, legs, back and even his scrotum. Peterson has apparently been cooperative with authorities who have been investigating the incident.
I’ve heard and read a lot about how this kind of punishment is part of a "Southern black culture" although almost everybody agrees that this punishment seems to have gone too far. "Whooping" may well be a part of the culture for some, but it’s a sad and disgusting part. I’m opposed to spanking, but I can’t imagine anyone taking a switch to a child.
Perhaps the most telling comments I saw about this issue came from Bart Scott, an NFL linebacker who has been retired for two years. Scott’s career was full of both success and controversy over some of his off-field outbursts.
"I went and sought out mental health specialists so I could learn how to handle my rage issues and things like that," he said on CBS Sports. "What happens is we tell everybody how to turn it (anger and rage) on, but nobody teaches us how to turn it off."
I’ve seen this kind of off-season anger and macho behavior up close and I understand what Scott says. All you have to do is look at the pre-game huddle in the NFL, which is unlike the pre-game huddle in any other sport. The jumping, war whoops the slamming of shoulder pads and helmets, all designed to raise the rage level to a fever pitch. I can only imagine how angry Peterson was when he took that switch to his son.
And finally, there is the league itself and its commissioner Roger Goodell.
It seems clear now that someone in the NFL office had the vivid tape of Rice assaulting his fiance. Goodell has maintained that he never saw it and that nobody in the NFL office eve saw it. There is at least one lie being told here, maybe two. Perhaps a lie of omission or one of commission.
Either way Goodell has to take responsibility for what happened in his office. He may have support from the owners but my guess is that the players and their union wouldn’t be all that hurt to see him go. The union thinks he has been harsh and arbitrary in handing out player punishments.
The one thing that I am most sure of, though, is that none of the troubles in the game right now will do a single thing to diminish the popularity of the National Football League and its games.
With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.
He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.
This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as OnMilwaukee.com keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.
Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.