11.3.18 Victory Hill vs Alabama

Former LSU football player Derrius Guice greets fans before the Alabama game on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018 at Victory Hill.

Over the past year, former LSU Tiger and second-round draft pick Derrius Guice has faced accusations of domestic abuse, sexual assault and rape. Though many would love it if he never saw the field again, there is one organization that believes he deserves a second chance: the NFL.

Guice was suspended for the first six games of the NFL season in regard to the allegations of domestic violence made by his ex-girlfriend. Those charges included three counts of assault and battery, which have since been dropped after the pair reached a settlement in June.

But that settlement should not erase what the woman said occurred and should not nullify his punishment in any way.

The NFL’s policy regarding domestic violence is a six-game suspension for first-time offenders and a lifetime ban for repeat offenders. The NFL held true to that in this instance, but is this enough of a punishment considering what else Guice has been accused of?

In a USA Today article released in November that highlighted LSU’s disgraceful handling of sexual assault cases at the University, Guice’s name was heavily featured. The allegations against Guice included multiple cases of rape and a case where a student named Samantha Brennan said he took and distributed an unsolicited nude photo of her.

Husch Blackwell investigated these cases, along with many others, and released a report on its findings a few months later. This report went into full detail of the accusations against Guice and highlighted cases that were not mentioned in the USA Today article.

Along with providing full details of Guice’s assaults and the University’s mishandling of them, the report highlighted another instance involving Guice, where he allegedly sexually harassed a 74-year-old Superdome security guard. A few months after the report, a new lawsuit added legal teeth to one of the rape allegations reported by USA Today. The plaintiff, a woman named Ashlyn Robertson, joined the ongoing class action suit on LSU’s mismanagement of sexual assault and domestic abuse.

While the “innocent until proven guilty” mindset is an important one to have, given the number of victims that have come forward and Guice’s track record, the NFL’s hesitancy to carry out serious punishment against Guice shows a lack of care and belief in the victims, along with an inability to act.

Even though it is unlikely that a team will be desperate enough to sign Guice at this point, the NFL should use this opportunity to set an example and show both current and future NFL players that behavior like this will not be tolerated.

And, could you imagine if he somehow found his way back on the field? What kind of message is that going to send to not only the alleged victims of Guice, but also to other victims across the country?

The fact that Guice has the opportunity to not only get out of this scot-free (minus the millions of dollars he has lost due to loss of potential future endorsements) but also make his way back into the league and garner millions is absurd. The message that sends is that committing atrocities such as rape and sexual or physical assault may result in a slap-on-the-wrist punishment.

Because that is exactly what a six-game suspension is: a slap on the wrist. These offenses are not meant to be treated as learning experiences for the offender: they should be treated as the horrible and unforgivable acts they are.

It is understandable that the NFL would want to uphold their domestic violence policy when figuring out the proper punishment, but Guice’s case is one that should be treated vastly differently. While the threat of a lifetime ban looming over his head provides motivation for him to never commit these atrocities again, as mentioned before, the things Guice stands accused of are unforgivable.

It is worth noting that the suspension only makes note of the domestic violence occurrences and does not touch on the accusations of sexual assault. But why haven’t they been touched on? The league has had an ample amount of time to investigate these claims and come to a decision.

Sweeping said claims under the rug is not an option in this situation. To disregard these allegations without at least providing an explanation or telling us what they are planning to do about this would be a huge mistake.

Guice is a free agent in the NFL who could see the field as early as Week 7, if a team offers him a contract. The NFL still has a chance to not only bar a player from the league that would hurt its reputation if he were to play again, but to set an example for current and future NFL players and show victims of domestic and sexual abuse that their voices will be heard and empathized with.

The question is, will they do what needs to be done?

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