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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Book Publishing Never Bans A Ray Rice: NFL Shouldn’t Either

The whole Ray Rice -- and now Adrian Peterson fiasco -- with how a sports league (NFL) handles players accused of off the field wrong-doing has dominated media headlines for weeks. It’s time to put the whole mess behind us with one simple policy: Separate the law from work, just as we separate church and state.

Is Ray Rice a bad guy? Or can we say he did a bad thing? Certainly. Did the law adequately handle the situation? No. Is it the responsibility of the employee to do what the law failed to do?


I don’t condone nor defend the actions of Ray Rice. As a fan I can choose to root for him or not. But the NFL, and his employee, The Baltimore Ravens, should no be involved in a non-sports related matter. Otherwise, the NFL becomes the judicial system and morality police. Where do you draw the line on actions, words or beliefs expressed by those connected to the sport?

Problem number one: If a person is punished by the law, why punish him twice?

Problem number two: If the law didn’t punish him and /or didn’t convict him of a crime, who is the league to say that he did something wrong?

Problem number three: How do you create an all-inclusive, consistent policy to handle things beyond what happens on the field? How will you rank things? Does spousal abuse rank higher than child abuse or getting into a bar brawl and breaking someone’s nose or cheating on your taxes or getting a speeding tick when doing over 100 mph?

I know it’s not easy to judge others and that’s why it’s no business of a sport to discipline off-the-field behavior unless it relates to performance. For instance, if you took a banned substance, from steroids to cocaine, you tried to cheat and pose a danger. Ban him. If you try to haze your teammate, ban him. If you publicly do something on the field that violates the rules or show poor sportsmanship, fine or ban him. But when one runs into the law, let the law handle it.

The real problem is the law and its ability to adequately punish and reform criminals- and to take steps to help prevent certain crimes from happening. Sports and other industries should not have to make judgments on actions, outside of the boundaries of work.

Look at book publishing and the entertainment business. We not only make money selling books about criminals or authors with checkered pasts, we also publish books by criminals, unethical losers, and admitted pieces of shit.

Book publishing, in both its fictional and non-fictional content, entertains readers when it comes to crime and criminal types -- TV and Hollywood studios produce many shows featuring people with broken moral codes, violent streaks, criminal activity. Many books feature hate, anger, bullying, negativity, violence and a slew of bad things.

Let’s not be hypocrites. Ray Rice should be in jail, but he is not, and so he should be running with a football down the field. Sports are separate from life off the field. So is book publishing and other industries and professions.

We would never say that a writer accused of a crime should be banned from publishing a book. We’d never say a person convicted of a crime can’t write a book. We would never say we shouldn’t publish a book about a criminal,  violent event or nasty person. We would never concern ourselves with any of this unless the author:

·         wrote a book of lies
·         committed liable or defamation
·         didn’t double-check the facts
·         advocates for violence
·         physically used a book as a weapon
Short of that, publish away. It’s up to readers to decide what to buy or read -- not a morality police, not a government censor.

And Rice should be playing football, not to be stopped by the morality police or a government that failed to punish him.

Society has an obligation to speak out against Rice and the government needs to do a lot more to handle or prevent such a crime, but it should never be the place of a sports league, a book publisher or a Hollywood studio to penalize someone over something that has zero to do with their work. 

Don’t put me down as someone defending a woman beater or the like. I don’t defend his actions. But the courts determine punishment, not a sport. And in the end, fans decide if they root for him or not, but the league should let him play. If his accuser can forgive and marry him that doesn’t make it any less of a crime and just because the law failed doesn’t mean he’s innocent or a nice guy. But he is allowed to work, to vote, and do what he does best -- play football.

And writers shall continue to write regardless of whether they are abusive parents, alcoholics, cheating spouses, liars, racists, or even criminals. Believe me many authors would fail a morality clause. Authors and athletes are no different. If you ban them, society loses out.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014


  1. Brian,

    I subscribe to your blog, and am always eager to read your great book marketing advice. But, today I disagree wholeheartedly with your viewpoint. NFL players, and other male national team sports figures are singularly idolized in this country and around the world. Little boys wear jerseys with these players' numbers on them, and pretend to be them from early childhood until sometimes after adolescence. Those boys see these players as examples of how to be men.

    These players are not just doing a job on Sunday afternoons. They are role models for the next generation in a way that men in other occupations are not. What Ray Rice, and other talented players of his caliber do, on the field and off, in every area of life, sets an example, good or bad, for the boys and young men who idolize them. When they sign a contract with a professional team, they should know that. We've all heard, "Those to whom much is given, much is expected." It is nowhere truer than in the lives of professional sports figures.

    "Teamwork" and "leadership" are words tossed around regularly in the sports world. Professional players should exhibit higher values and live up to higher standards as high-profile leaders and team players. Leaders and team players should always stand for something greater, and always exemplify the best.

    Boys learn to be men by following the examples of the men they idolize. Violence against women is unacceptable behavior that our country can no longer afford to have modeled for rising generations.

    Celebrated sports figures do have a higher responsibility as role models. And team management has a responsibility to hold their players to a higher standard.

    Valorie Cooper

  2. I agree with Valorie. We have gone too far the other way with events that happen in people's lives. Yes, it is the employer's business when the employee messes up. That employee represents his firm--whether it be a football team, a church, or a school. We all should aim to live a higher standard because we don't know who is watching us.

  3. Ultimately, it's all about money. Short of being unavailable because he's locked up, the team and league would want to keep a player on the field if they figure it will attract more customers than it repels. Same goes for sponsors.

  4. Most things are all about money. But should they be? I say no; we should strive for higher ideals. A solution that would solve both the ideals and money issues would be for professional sports teams (and other organizations whose members have a higher propensity for anger/aggression issues) to have a system in place to prevent unacceptable behavior, and to successfully deal with it when it does occur.

    An anger management program, for example, might be a great thing. Players could be required to attend a seminar explaining what unacceptable behavior is, and the consequences of same, as part of induction to the team. If they mess up, they are suspended until they successfully pass a respected anger management course and show they have their issues under control. No one loses his/her livelihood, and he/she still serves as a responsible role model in the end. The world is a more peaceful place, jobs are saved, everyone makes money and the game goes on. It would be an expense up front, but money well spent, in my opinion. It would serve a PR purpose as well. And sponsors might be happy to support these type programs.


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