Football Stars Sidelined over Domestic Abuse

Professional football players are viewed by most fans as gods among men; titans here on earth who go to battle every week in intense matches that require both physical and mental stamina. The unfortunate truth is that nobody is perfect, and even the strongest players can succumb to emotional difficulties.

Two NFL players who have been making headlines recently for their personal issues are Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, for assault and domestic abuse matters, respectively.

As Sports Illustrated reports, Peterson pleaded no contest Tuesday to reckless assault. He was originally charged with felony child abuse for hitting his son with a switch. Peterson—who has also lost lucrative sponsors– was placed on the NFL’s exempt list while his legal matters play out. The NFL rejected Peterson’s request for immediate reinstatement following his plea agreement and a decision on his status as a player is forthcoming.

According to The New York Times, Ray Rice is appealing a case over his suspension and later barring from the NFL after hitting his then-fiancée Janay Palmer, who is now his wife. Rice argues that he was penalized twice for the same thing, since he was suspended for two games when the incident first occurred and was then barred indefinitely when a video of the elevator assault went viral.

Domestic assault is a serious issue, but it is important for our criminal justice system to handle such matters without violating the rights of the accused. Overzealous punishment does not necessarily solve the deeper issues at hand in domestic violence cases. Oftentimes, those who are accused have deep-rooted emotional instabilities and are better served by seeking therapy and other forms of treatment than by extreme penalties imposed by the courts or the organizations who employ them.

As a criminal defense law firm devoted to fighting for the rights of the accused in domestic assault and other criminal cases, we hope that both Peterson and Rice receive the same fair treatment afforded to individuals who are not in the celebrity spotlight. Working in the public arena is accompanied by a unique set of challenges and stresses, and we are confident that any professional athlete who finds himself in hot water over domestic abuse, assault, or other issues would be well-served by finding the help they need to treat their emotional difficulties rather than suffering from arbitrarily harsh penalties imposed by the leagues that employ them.