It’s Never Too Late to Do the Right Thing

This evening and tomorrow morning will be the Night of a Million Think-Pieces regarding the Ravens releasing spouse-abuser Ray Rice and the NCAA canceling Penn State’s punishment.

Some of these think-pieces will be vapid or downright stupid. Some of them will be written by smart authors and make sense and I may link to them. I don’t pretend to be enough of a thought leader to subject you to a full column on my oh-so-important feelings on these matters.

All I will say is something very simple: the Baltimore Ravens did the right thing today. So did the NCAA.

Obviously, neither of these organizations will be canonized for sainthood, nor should they be. But let’s not focus on their past awfulness for a moment. Let’s focus on today.

Today, the Baltimore Ravens’ decision-makers saw the Ray Rice elevator video for the first time (I presume), and they faced a decision:

  • Do we keep Ray Rice on the roster and let the NFL figure out what to do?
  • Do we release Ray Rice and be done with it?

Argue all you want about their motivations. Argue over whether or not they took too long to get rid of Rice.

But faced with two possible decisions today, the people running the Ravens made the right one. They fired a bad person who had acted reprehensibly.

Over the last few months (I presume), the decision-makers at the NCAA saw how Penn State has been running its athletic department post-sanctions, and they faced a decision:

  • Do we keep the school’s sanctions as-is?
  • Do we reduce the school’s sanctions, allowing the football team to play in the postseason this year?

Argue all you want about whether or not the initial punishment fit Penn State’s crimes. Argue over whether oft-hypocritical NCAA only demonstrated more hypocrisy when you contrast their treatment of Penn State with that of USC. I certainly did.

But faced with two possible decisions, the people running the NCAA made the right one. It is wrong to dole out sanctions that serve only to punish innocent athletes who played no part in the crimes. Make administrators and wrong-doers pay the price, not 20-year-olds.

We can and should discuss many elements of these stories: Should Roger Goodell be out of a job? Should the Baltimore Ravens be punished for keeping their heads in the sand for so long? Who knew about the Ray Rice video and when? Does USC have a basis for a lawsuit agains the NCAA? How exactly should the NCAA punish ne’er-do-well athletic departments in the future?

But for today, the Ravens and the NCAA did the right thing. In a vortex of their wrong and downright stupid decisions, we should take a moment and commend them for doing the right thing.

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