National flawed league

The NFL punishment system is flawed, but it can be fixed

Zach Cutler, Staff Writer

Nothing is better than fall afternoons filled with football. From running backs like Dalvin Cook dashing down the sidelines, to no look passes from Patrick Mahomes,  the National Football League is the most popular sports league in America and rightly so.

However, the NFL has a major problem. The way they punish players for violating league rules related to substance abuse and  personal conduct is extremely flawed for a myriad of reasons and needs revision. 

  To begin, the NFL is notorious for rapidly suspending players with traces of Marujana or PEDs (performance-enhancing drugs) in their system, oftentimes not doing much investigation on how or why that drug is in their system.

A fantastic example of this is Golden Tate, wide receiver for the New York Giants. Tate was suspended for having a banned substance in his system on August 13, 2019. If you were to glance at Sportscenter and see this, you would likely think that he deserves to be suspended for violating league policy. However, Tate had no intentions of having this PED in his system.

In a statement released by Tate, he explained that he and his wife went to a specialist for fertility planning. He began to use the prescribed treatment but discovered that it had an ingredient that was on the banned substance list. He reported this incident to the NFL before he failed his drug test.

“I did not, and could not have undergone this treatment in April for any competitive advantage,” Tate said in  a tweet.

Tate attempted to appeal the suspension but was denied by the NFL. 

What makes no sense is that the NFL suspended Tate right after the drug test, but they wait weeks and sometimes months before suspending players for violating the personal conduct policy.  Quite often, the players that have long investigations aren’t found guilty. 

Historically the NFL has had issues in the way they punish players regarding personal conduct and domestic violence, oftentimes not giving harsh enough punishment

Players like Kareem Hunt (kicked a woman repeatedly) , Ezekiel Elliot (shoved a man in Vegas), and Tyreek Hill (broke his son’s arm) have all had incidents regarding personal conduct in the past year, but only Hunt was suspended by the NFL.

Last spring, Tyreek Hill was accused of child abuse after a leaked audio file of his fiancé accusing him of breaking his child’s arm went public. In the audio file, Hill’s fiancé states that their child is afraid of Hill whenever he sees him. She also claimed that their child said  “Daddy did it” when asked about the bruises on his arm. 

Investigators stated that a crime was committed, but there wasn’t enough evidence to confirm that Hill did it.

“[We] believe that a crime has occurred, but the evidence in this case does not conclusively establish who committed the crime against this child,” Johnson County District Attorney Stephen M. Howe said.  

Hill was found not guilty by both the prosecutors and the NFL. Hill returned to the Chiefs training camp on July 27th and faced no discipline by the league.

I’m very pro innocent-until-proven-guilty, but Hill has a history of being violent.

While the Chiefs organization did suspend him during the investigation, the fact that the NFL didn’t suspend him or even place him on the commissioner’s exempt list is absolutely ridiculous. The NFL placing Hill on the commissioner’s exempt list, regardless if he was found guilty or not, looks good for the league for at least being precautionary, but more importantly, it sends a message to the whole league that the NFL is taking the personal conduct policy seriously.

How can the NFL fix their discipline system? Simply put, the NFL needs to ease up on incidents regarding substance abuse. Players should not be suspended for four games when they did not purposely consume a banned substance or just smoked marijuana. Two games is plenty. 

However, with incidents regarding personal conduct, the NFL needs to condemn players more appropriately based on the players history and the type of crime committed. For example, if a player has a history of being violent they should have a longer suspension, possibly up to a year. If the incident is egregious enough, the NFL should consider banning the player.

 Where it stands now, a player that takes in a banned substance while attempting to get treatment is suspended for a quarter of the season. However, a player that beats his kid has no punishment. So commissioner Godell, do the right thing and suspend the players that commit violent crimes and ease up on incidents involving Marijuna.