As appalling as Ray Rice’s underlying behavior was, this is clearly the correct decision. Yes, if the NFL had a competently designed system of punishment, knocking a woman unconscious would not merit a significantly lower suspension than using recreational drugs. Nonetheless, the NFL did not have such a system when Rice committed the offense (and, for that matter, doesn’t now, but anyway.) The idea that Rice should retroactively receive a greater punishment than Goodell thinks a domestic offender should get in a standard announced after the fact because he “lied to Goodell” is absurd on its face. And the absurdity is compounded by the fact that it’s vastly more likely that Goodell is lying than Rice is.
Obviously, Rice may never play an NFL game again; he was a replacement-level player at the NFL’s least important offensive skill position last year, and if his behavior means NFL GMs don’t want to gamble that he has something left in the tank I don’t have a problem with that. But the Ravens should pay him what they owe him, and he shouldn’t be singled out for uniquely harsh discipline from the NFL.