The common theme among those who are defending the NFL's action is that we do not know what happened in that elevator before Rice was caught dragging her out. And that is a legitimate argument in my opinion, because it is true. Yes it was reported that police had video of the incident in question, but with said video not being made public, we only have hearsay to rely on.
But that so, something clearly did happen in that elevator. Nobody can deny that, otherwise, how did Palmer become unconscious in the first place? And after all, the NFL is still disciplining him for the incident, which means that the NFL knows something happened and something serious enough to warrant a suspension in the first place. You can take a look at the police summons for yourself, there is a reason why he was arrested, mind you. There is a reason why Rice applied for, and was later accepted to in May, a pretrial intervention program (which does not mean innocence, mind you). There is a reason why Rice apologized for "his actions" during that painful press conference. Something happened, and it ended with Rice dragging an unconscious woman out of an elevator.
Yes, in this country we are thankfully innocent until proven guilty. And yes, Rice never went to trial, won't be convicted, and won't spend a day in jail, although that changes should Rice fail to complete the intervention program. Of course, neither did Ben Roethlisberger when he was accused of sexual assault in 2010, and Goodell suspended him for six games which was later reduced to four. Goodell justified his actions in using the league's personal conduct policy despite Roethlisberger never being arrested nor charged with a crime by saying this (emphasis mine):
The Personal Conduct Policy makes clear that I may impose discipline 'even where the conduct does not result in conviction of a crime' as, for example, where the conduct 'imposes inherent danger to the safety and well being of another person'."Maybe it is just me, but I think that it is pretty cut-and-dry that being dragged unconscious out of an elevator after your boyfriend assaults you fit the criteria of "inherent danger to the safety and well being" of a person. But what do I know?
Why don't you compare this punishment with other punishments handed out by Goodell during his tenure. Better yet, here is a nifty graphic from the folks at Sports on Earth on the matter:
prepared to suspend a player a full season for marijuana and suspended a player five before he even entered a league for something that happened when he was a student-athlete is giving Ray Rice a slap in the wrist for assaulting a woman. If that's not a disgrace, what is?
I thought your job was "protecting the shield," Mr. Commissioner. Your words, not mine.