Word is just coming out that the NFL is going to suspend Cardinals inside linebacker Daryl Washington for the entire 2014 season. This is a huge blow to the Cardinals and their hopes to end a six season playoff drought. Even though it hurts, most of the initial fan reaction on Twitter made me proud of Cardinals fans. The most common reaction I saw besides surprise, was applause.
Many of the fans I saw on Twitter spoke out and weren’t shy about their feelings that Washington got what was coming to him. See the large majority of NFL fans are just like me, they’re sick of hearing about NFL players being arrested for domestic violence. The Ray Rice incident seems to have been the final straw. Seeing an NFL athlete carry his fiancee after he knocked her out was just too much for the casual fan, no matter how much they love the league.
Back in February I wrote a column about how Roger Goodell and the NFL needed to do more to prevent and punish the two most common and egregious offenses committed by NFL players in their off time.
Domestic violence and DUI’s have become a regular and unacceptable occurrence by both the league’s players and even executives. While the NFL’s pot police has been throwing around suspensions right and left, the league has been slow to react to the growing problems facing players that have far more serious consequences.
Last month the league began considering reducing the harshness of the penalties for testing positive for Marijuana. Many around the league believe the league will use this as a bargaining chip to help include HGH testing in their drug policy. This isn’t a bad idea since HGH can have some seriously negative effects on the football field and pot is believed to have some beneficial effects for the punishment players take. However, if the league brings the Player’s Association to the bargaining table then they need to also change the policy for DUI’s and domestic violence.
Washington is being suspended for a year not just for his domestic violence conviction, but for his name coming across the commissioners desk for multiple offenses. That should change. A one year suspension should be the penalty for a first time offender when it comes to domestic violence. The league should send a strong message and also suspend Rice for a full year regardless of what happens in the courts. The video being circulated should be all the evidence that the league needs to drop the hammer.
It’s time for the league to remind their players how much of a privilege it is to make a lot of money playing a game for a living. They also need to make it clear that a big strong man should never raise his hand to a woman. Ever. I know this should have been covered in kindergarten, but some NFL players are still acting like children and need a harsh reminder.
I know this is a blow for Cardinals fans, and Washington is a very talented player. Bruce Arians often speaks about his “next man up” philosophy and this will be another chance for someone to prove they’re capable. Hopefully Washington will get the help and perspective that he needs to grow and become a better man. It also may help him become an even better football player.