What’s the NFL hiding?

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Running back Ray Rice was dropped the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the NFL after a second video of Rice knocking his then-fiance unconscious in an Atlantic City casino elevator surfaced this week. Initially, Rice was given a two-game suspension based on part of the video, which showed him dragging his now-wife out of the elevator. This week, the portion of the video that showed Rice actually knocking her unconscious was released by TMZ. Immediately, the NFL slammed him with the indefinite suspension and he lost his job.

The NFL claims it did not have knowledge of the second portion of the video, trying to wiggle its way out of the harshest of the criticism it is receiving for letting Rice off so easy in the first place. The truth is, though, that even if they had not seen the video of Rice knocking out a woman, the fact that he was dragging her out of an elevator should have been enough of a clue that something was terribly amiss.

In fact, the NFL already knew it had screwed things up – in the time before the first suspension and the new ruling, they had already set harsher penalties in place for any NFL player caught abusing a partner. The new portion of the video simply gave them an excuse to levy the penalty they should have doled out in the first place.

If it does play out that the NFL already knew how bad the incident was, however, things are going to get pretty ugly for the league, and rightfully so. It will raise the issue of how much the league might be willing to cover up to keep the good PR and the great players. In a world where kids and teens from across the country look up to these professional athletes, though, and where fans are paying big money to watch them play, the truth is that there should be some sort of integrity to the players. Yes, they are human, they make human mistakes and have human problems. When the world is watching, though, and a player is making millions to be on a stage, it’s time to start cleaning up the act.