Adam Schefter reports that the NFL front office will suspend Ray Rice for two games over the domestic violence episode from February 15. Rice reportedly knocked his now wife Janay Parker out. Rice apologized back in May. He pled not guilty in court, but accepted an intervention program.
The key importance here for Panthers fans is not what this says about Ray Rice, but what it could mean for Greg Hardy. Observers believe that Rice was treated leniently by Goodell. Goodell probably accepted that Rice had tried to own up to the situation and sought forgiveness. Still, Rice will be lost for two games and lose those pay checks.
Rice was never convicted, Hardy was. Rice and his wife sought public forgiveness. Hardy and his former girlfriend likely have no intention to make such a move. Hardy is getting a new trial and could be acquitted by a jury, but that event is far in the future. Goodell will not let this issue sit until the season starts.
For Panther followers, Rice’s punishment should be viewed as the floor as to what could happen to Hardy when the League acts. Hardy will be hit harder. All of this combines to make things very unsettled for the Panthers entering training camp. Panthers defensive success is built on the line bringing pressure to make everyone else’s jobs easier. If the line is brining pressure, it may not matter who you put in the defensive secondary.
This all brings us back to the development of Kony Ealy and whether he will be ready to step in when he is likely asked to step in.