In a recent turn of events, Ray Rice, who is a former running back for the Baltimore Ravens NFL Football Team was reinstated back into the NFL. Ray Rice appealed his permanent suspension which was handed down by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Barbara S Jones determined that Ray Rice was to be reinstated and now has an opportunity to sign with any team in the NFL.

During the hearing, Roger Goodell and the NFL claimed that Ray Rice had mislead the NFL during an interview regarding a domestic violence incident with his former girlfriend and present wife Janay Rice. Former U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones, concluded that Ray Rice did not lie to or mislead NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Jones stated, “In this arbitration, the NFL argues that Commissioner Goodell was misled when he disciplined Rice the first time. Because, after careful consideration of all of the evidence, I am not persuaded that Rice lied to, or misled, the NFL at his June interview, I find that the indefinite suspension was an abuse of discretion and must be vacated.” Roger Goodell and the NFL’s decision to punish Ray Rice a second time is paramount to double jeopardy.

The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that the Double Jeopardy Clause encompasses four distinct prohibitions:

  • subsequent prosecution after acquittal
  • subsequent prosecution after conviction
  • subsequent prosecution after certain mistrials
  • multiple punishment in the same indictment.

Not only did Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL implement Double Jeopardy but the Baltimore Ravens also participated in the double jeopardy process.

The first thing that the Baltimore Ravens did was to deny Ray Rice any pay for the original two games that he was suspended. When Roger Goodell suspended Ray Rice from the NFL a second time, the Baltimore Ravens followed by eliminating his contract. Then they followed with a smear campaign regarding Ray Rice which resulted in fans returning their Ray Rice jerseys.

The Baltimore Ravens offered an exchange for Ray Rice jersey on Friday, September 19 to Sunday September 20 at the M&T Bank Stadium. According to NFL ESPN. More than 7,000 fans showed up to exchange their Ray Rice jerseys for those of other Ravens players during a two-day event at Baltimore’s home, team officials said Saturday. The Ravens handed out 5,595 new jerseys before running out before midday Saturday, then issued more than 2,400 vouchers for fans to pick up their jerseys once new shipments arrived later. The behavior of the Baltimore Ravens is typical to that of a dysfunctional organization.

Dysfunctional organizations exhibit several characteristics that are detrimental to its existence. While Chris Argyris (1990) charted four factors that contribute to the dysfunctional organization, I propose that there are five different levels that contribute to a dysfunctional organization.

The foundation for the dysfunctional organization begins with each person’s use of defense mechanisms for coping. Defense mechanisms are the unwritten rules an individual learns and utilizes to effectively deal with circumstances that are upsetting, embarrassing, or threatening. The second level is skilled incompetence, which is the outcome of the defense mechanisms we have internalized. When the defensive behaviors we’ve learned are transformed into a learned behavior, that behavior becomes a skill. An incompetent skill that we consider necessary in order to deal with issues that are embarrassing, threatening, or upsetting. Skilled incompetence transforms into a defensive routine. Defensive routines are the third level. When the skilled incompetence is automatically exhibited at all times, the behavior is now a defensive routine. Defensive routines lead to fancy footwork. Fancy footwork – the fourth level – happens when individuals try to deny the behavioral inconsistencies they exhibit, or else they place blame on other people, which results in distancing themselves from taking responsibility for their behavioral inconsistencies. Fancy footwork leads to organizational malaise. During organizational malaise – the final level – individuals in the organization – in this case which pointed to the exit of Ray Rice – will seek to find fault within the organization rather than accept responsibility for their actions and correct their behavior accordingly. The organization continues the process by accentuating the negative and deemphasizing the positive in an effort to cover up their actions. The organizational malaise is further exacerbated by a refusal of one or all the members to discuss their area of responsibility.

The Baltimore Ravens followed this process which resulted in them dismissing Ray Rice from the team and creating additional distance between them and Ray Rice by selling and trading for his jerseys. It was so bad that children began to wear the Ray Rice jersey as a Halloween costume.

At the root of the Baltimore Ravens response is racism. They overacted because Ray Rice is Black and the majority of their upper staff members are White. Ray Rice should have never been punished twice by the NFL or twice by the Baltimore Ravens. While this tragedy has illuminated the racial challenges that exist in the NFL, it is also an opportunity to enhance racial relationships within the team and the community. The Baltimore Ravens should take the following steps:

  1. Reinstate Ray Rice to the Baltimore Ravens
  2. Provide Ray Rice with all back pay
  3. Publicize an initiative with Ray Rice to enhance positive racial relationships with Baltimore Raven players and Baltimore Raven staff members to include coaches and owners
  4. Publicize an initiative to enhance positive racial relationships in the Baltimore community to include Baltimore Raven football players

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Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
www.positiveracialrelationships.com
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012

 

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