By Ashley Dunkak
ALLEN PARK (CBS DETROIT) – As the sports world buzzes about the saga of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, whom the NFL has suspended indefinitely for knocking his wife unconscious, the Detroit Lions prepare to play the Carolina Panthers, whose defensive end Greg Hardy has been found guilty of attacking and threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend.READ MORE: Science of Weather: Brightmoor Flower Farm
Hardy is appealing the ruling, but his attorney does not expect the case will be heard until next year, according to the Charlotte Observer. Panthers coach Ron Rivera said the team expects Hardy to play against Detroit.
So the convicted Hardy will likely be playing Sunday, while Rice, who was accepted into a pre-trial intervention program and initially given just a two-game ban, will sit indefinitely, potentially the rest of the year.
That contrast stands out to Lions running back Reggie Bush, a nine-year NFL veteran.
“I think it’s unfair to Ray Rice,” Bush said Friday. “I don’t know the details of what’s going on with Greg Hardy. He’s a great player. If he plays this week, that’s really up to the organization, to the Carolina Panthers. That’s not up to us as players. Obviously as players, we don’t want to see – we don’t wish anything bad on anybody. I don’t want to see Greg Hardy get suspended over something like this, but if the rules are in place, then so be it. Ultimately it’s up to the Panthers and the NFL on whether he should play or not.”
As far as whether it surprised Bush that the Panthers would allow Hardy to play in the current climate, with the Rice debacle such a hot topic, Bush said the inconsistency might stem from the fact that the NFL is in a state of flux in the way it deals with domestic violence.
Prior to the Rice case, the league did not have – or at least had not publicized – a specific policy establishing a minimum punishment for domestic violence incidents.
“This is such a new deal that we’re dealing with, not just the NFL, but players too,” Bush said. “It affects all of us. I grew up around domestic violence. I grew up, unfortunately, seeing it firsthand from a biological father who I don’t really have a relationship with, but I’ve seen it firsthand, and it’s ugly, and no man should ever put his hands on a woman. I think it’s unfortunate and hopefully we can all learn from this situation because that split second of losing your temper could affect the whole NFL, like you see right now.
“I agree with [the rule changes] because [domestic violence] has no place, I think, in the NFL or in any sport,” Bush added. “It’s something that should never be allowed in sports. It’s not even allowed in the law, so it definitely shouldn’t be allowed in sports.”READ MORE: Live updates: 14 students, 1 teacher killed after shooter opens fire at Texas elementary school
The Rice story began with TMZ publishing a video that showed the running back dragging his unconscious wife from an elevator. There were rumors that another video showed the punch that knocked her out, but the NFL gave Rice a two-game suspension. Not long after that announcement, the league conceded it ruled incorrectly on Rice and rolled out a new policy on punishment for domestic violence.
Monday, the second video – the one showing the actual punch and Rice’s disturbingly nonchalant reaction to it – came out, and the NFL said it had never seen the video and promptly suspended Rice indefinitely.
Reports have contradicted the NFL’s statements about not being to see or procure the tape, however, which raises some weighty questions about how Goodell decided on a two-game suspension. The alternative answers seem to be that either Goodell saw the tape and for some reason thought two games would be acceptable, or Goodell did not see the tape – which seems unthinkable considering the NFL’s army of resources – and in that regard was negligent at best in his investigation of what Rice did.
Bush said he straddles the fence in terms of the league’s handling of Rice, particularly the way the NFL suspended him two games initially and then ramped up the punishment dramatically after seeing the video of what Rice had already told them he did.
“You can make a case for, if Ray Rice is able to control his temper, then none of this happens,” Bush said. “But on the other side, it happened, and I felt like the league penalized him, they gave him a two-game suspension. They should have left it at that just admit that, hey, they made a mistake, and they ended up coming out with a rule – first offense six games, second offense lifetime ban – and let’s just move on from there … It is what it is, two-game suspension, leave it at that.
“I don’t think it’s fair to double back on him and then say, ‘Well now because we saw the video – ‘ because what did you think it was going to look like?” Bush continued. “He admitted to hitting her, punching her, knocking her out, that to me says it wasn’t a love tap. It was going to look vicious. It’s unfortunate that his wife has to be the one who’s suffering from all of this, so hopefully this gets resolved in the best way possible.”
Many in the media have called for Goodell to step down – or for the NFL owners to fire him – in the wake of the scandal. Bush does not agree.
“I don’t think Roger Goodell should lose his job,” Bush said. “I don’t think Ray Rice should’ve lost his job. I think it was handled the way it was, and they should have left it at that and moved on from it. Sometimes – there’s a lot of times in life that rules get put into place because something happens, and then you’re like, ‘Okay, let’s put a rule in place for that,’ so I don’t think it’s fair to go back and now ban him for the season or however long, indefinitely, but I don’t think [Roger Goodell’s] job should be in question.
“There’s a lot of players in this league, and he has a lot of things to worry about, and he has a lot of stuff on his table that he has to handle,” Bush added. “So he’s not going to get it all right. He’s not always going to get it right. He’s not always going to be wrong, so you’ve just got to take it for what it is, move on from it and hopefully learn from it.”MORE NEWS: Here's Where You Can Get A Free Slice Of 'Pepsi-Roni' Pizza In Metro Detroit This Friday