On Wednesday morning, the NFL suspended Ray Rice two games for knocking his then-fiancée unconscious. This punishment is seen as inadequate by many, particularly when juxtaposed with past NFL disciplinary actions.
A closer look at recent NFL suspensions demonstrates the league’s wild inconsistency in upholding its nebulous Personal Conduct Policy. Since 2006, the NFL has suspended at least 27 players for personal conduct policy violations. This doesn’t include suspensions handed down by teams — such as the Giants suspending Plaxico Burress for shooting himself in the groin or the Dolphins suspension of Richie Incognito for bullying — as those are subject to different review standards. In that same time, there have been at least 105 suspensions for violation of the NFL’s Substance Abuse Policy, which tends to fit tighter punishment guidelines, although a quick analysis found several exceptions to the rule. Likewise, any and all suspension lengths listed do not include the duration of any prison sentence. So, for example, although Michael Vick was “suspended indefinitely” during his prison term, he was effectively banned from NFL participation for two games after his release.
This is not meant to be a comprehensive documentation of the NFL’s suspension history, but rather a demonstration of its haphazard rulings. I have purposely not included player names or teams so as to eliminate bias, although you’ll almost certainly recognize some incidents by their descriptions. Further, this does not include incidents reviewed by the NFL that yielded no suspension.