By Joseph Yamulla, Contributing Writer ||

The start of the NFL season is always an extremely exciting time of year. It is a new opportunity for players, fans, and organizations to start fresh. Unfortunately, the action on the field to start this NFL season has been overshadowed by a cloud of controversy. What is usually an exciting first few weeks has been turned into absolute disappointment in the league because of how it handled the incredibly serious issues of domestic violence and child abuse. The NFL, under commissioner Roger Goodell, has placed itself under public scrutiny concerning where it stands in these matters of abuse. The organization now has a lot of work to do to clean up the mess it made.

It all began in April, when footage leaked on TMZ showed Baltimore Ravens star running back, Ray Rice, dragging his unconscious fiancé, Janay Palmer, into an elevator. At that time in the Spring, there was no footage of Rice actually delivering the blow to the woman which knocked her unconscious. Not long after this, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell delivered a two-game suspension to Ray Rice. This started the immense wave of controversy and scrutiny regarding Goodell, since a two-game suspension is a very light punishment to a man who commits domestic abuse.

This issue remained a matter of discussion all Summer. Then, on Monday, Sept. 8, TMZ released more footage of Ray Rice delivering a vicious blow to his fiancé’s head and spitting on her. Roger Goodell and the NFL immediately suspended Ray Rice indefinitely from the NFL. Goodell then claimed that neither he nor anyone in the NFL had ever seen the actual footage of Ray Rice delivering this gruesome hit to his fiancé. That same week, news was released that Roger Goodell and the NFL did in fact possess film documenting the incident that night in Atlantic City. A terrible situation all of a sudden escalated into a matter that can change the way many look at the NFL and those who run it.

Many think that Roger Goodell has no choice but to step down as commissioner of the National Football League. The matter of domestic abuse is much bigger than the game of football. Honesty and integrity are necessary components that need to be in place in any organization, especially one as powerful as the NFL. Many believe that Roger Goodell denied having this footage and covered it up in attempt to prevent the league from looking bad. If this is the case, Goodell is in serious trouble. The name and brand of the NFL has a lot of power, but no power can cover up serious abuse issues to protect its name.

To many people’s surprise, Roger Goodell still has his job as NFL commissioner. The darkness that has overshadowed achievements on the field this season have not stopped at Ray Rice. Superstar running back Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings has just been placed on the exempt list due to allegations and photographs of him hitting his son with a tree branch. Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer has been deactivated due to a domestic violence arrest. Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy was just released from the roster for a domestic violence case.

San Francisco 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald was also just involved in a domestic violence act. The 49ers, however, are continuing to play McDonald while the investigation plays out, a decision that has caused much disagreement.

All of these cases must be taken seriously. American society has a tendency to place these superstar athletes on pedestals, when in reality they are not larger than life, nor are they above the law. Sports fans are making it known that they will not idolize players who use their strength to hurt women and children. If Roger Goodell keeps his job as commissioner of the NFL, he has a lot of work to do to clean up his mess. Many find it ironic that all of these other players’ cases are being exposed now that the Ray Rice case has been unraveled.

Question remains as to whether the NFL did anything to push these matters aside to make sure the league isn’t darkened by faces of violence. Roger Goodell now faces pressure to step up to the plate and show a zero tolerance policy on domestic and child abuse. He can no longer deny the realities of domestic violence being committed by his athletes in his league. No brand, game, or player is worth more than the life of an innocent victim of abuse.

First-year Joseph Yamulla is a contributing writer. His email is