Ravens owner denies Rice ‘leniency’

Barny 23/09/2014
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The Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti denies a report that claims they knew about Ray Rice's violent domestic assault hours after the incident occurred and then pleaded with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to go easy on the 27-year-old.









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Harbaugh searching for answers after 49ers struggling start

Jay Asser 23/09/2014
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All on me: Jim Harbaugh's team have endured a poor start to the season.

The San Francisco 49ers are reeling through three games, having no one to blame but themselves for their early-season struggles.

By blowing second-half leads and committing debilitating penalties, the 49ers look far from the team that’s reached three straight NFC Championship games with a distinct identity.

San Francisco’s shortcomings were highlighted in the 23-14 loss to NFC West foes Arizona Cardinals in Week 3, as the 49ers were outscored 17-0 in the second half to fall to 1-2.

It’s been a tale of two halves all season for San Francisco, who have thrashed opponents 59-16 in the first two quarters, only to be outscored 52-3 after the intermission – a significant drop-off from coach Jim Harbaugh’s first three years.

San Francisco ranked 17th, fourth and sixth in average points per game during the second half the past three seasons, while the 

defence finished no lower than eighth for least points conceded with an average of 9.3 per year.

Harbaugh can’t decipher what’s leading to the second-half problems this year and had no answer when asked for an explanation following the loss to Arizona.

“No, I don’t [understand],” Harbaugh said. “We’ve just got to play better. We’re not playing good enough right now.”

Defensively, it’s hard to ignore the number of penalties the 49ers are racking up to extend opposing offence’s drives.

San Francisco committed nine penalties for 107 yards against the Cardinals after accumulating 16 for 118 yards in their loss to the Chicago Bears in Week 2.

The penalties haven’t been mild either. Much of the penalty yardage has been off personal fouls, such as wide receiver Anquan Boldin’s head-butt of Arizona’s Tony Jefferson to push the offence out of the red zone in the third quarter.

Boldin, however, is frustrated by how tightly the 49ers games have been called, calling out the referees to officiate more evenly. 

“It’s been obvious the last two weeks,” Boldin said. “The amount of calls that have gone against us and the amount of calls that we’ve gotten hasn’t been close. Every week it’s the same thing. We send the tape in, the NFL just reports back, ‘We made a mistake.’ At the same time, the c*** is costing us games. At some point, they need to be held accountable.”

Penalties aside, the San Francisco pass defence has looked inconsistent and things get no easier with the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles next on the schedule.

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Sport360° view: Goodell remains bulletproof as he takes shots aimed at NFL

Jay Asser 20/09/2014
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Under fire: Roger Goodell.

How Roger Goodell is still the commissioner of the NFL has baffled all followers of the sport. There’s isn’t anyone with a sense of perspective who would argue he shouldn’t be gone.

Even though Goodell isn’t the root of all the problems plaguing the league off the field, he’s certainly contributed his fair share.

The Ray Rice fiasco did enough damage to Goodell’s credibility that he should be removed from the position solely based on how badly he mishandled the situation.

After a video leaked of Rice punching his then-girlfriend-now-wife Janay in an elevator, Goodell changed his original suspension from two games to an indefinite one. But the video begged a number of questions, all pointing to Goodell and the league’s ineptitude.

If he had seen the tape, why didn’t he change Rice’s suspension immediately? Was he covering it up and hoping the video wouldn’t reach the public?

If he hadn’t see the tape, then why not? How can the most powerful sports league in the country – a billion-dollar industry – not get their hands on a surveillance tape from a casino elevator, but TMZ, a celebrity gossip website, can?

On top of that, by all accounts Rice told Goodell exactly what he had done to his wife earlier in the summer, yet Goodell didn’t act until the video was released and outside pressure feverishly mounted.

Goodell realised the league’s mishandling looked suspect, so he hired former FBI director Robert Mueller to conduct an “independent” investigation to save face. Independent is clearly the wrong word to describe the investigation because it’s far from objective.

Overseeing the affair are none other than John Mara and Dan Rooney from two of the league’s oldest ownership groups – the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers – while Mueller himself previously worked at the same Washington D.C. law firm – WilmerHale – as Dick Cass, the Baltimore Ravens team president and Rice’s former employer.

It’s a farce.

What they uncover won’t change much, because even before getting answers that might never come, it’s the questions that reveal the deceitful nature of how everything has gone down. Either way you slice it, Goodell and the league come out with their hands dirtied.

Still, Goodell isn’t going anywhere, at least not yet.

He’s too invaluable for the league’s owners, a whipping boy who’s willing to fall on the sword to protect the NFL shield. The owners don’t want to lose that and bring in an outsider who’ll hold them more accountable and stand up to the bullies.

Let’s keep in mind though, that whether or not Goodell is around, the league had and still has its issues with crime, substance abuse and concussions. Goodell didn’t bring those problems with him when he took over office in 2006, he’s just presided over them like his predecessors.

Watching the NFL right now is difficult.

It’s conflicting to watch something you love and feel guilty doing so at the same time. You’ll see a lineman strip-sack a quarterback and be in awe, only to remember the player was once convicted of assault and regret ever rooting for him.

The league is a long way from where we’d like it to be off the field and we’ve done our part in ignoring how rotted it is underneath the entertaining action up to this point.

Removing Goodell won’t solve everything, but it’s a first step to fixing the NFL.


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