The NFL has a problem, for the entire month of September their issue with domestic violence has been on public display.

Earlier this month the disturbing elevator footage of former Baltimore Ravens running-back Ray Rice decking his now wife Janay Rice sent shockwaves through the nation, especially when coupled with the fact that the running-back had been punished by a suspension from a mere two games.

Football fans, the media and the general public were left aghast at the level of violence depicted in the video by this otherwise great athlete, and furthermore what appeared to be a great guy as well.

While it would easy for football fans to simply say ‘oh, this is just an isolated case of this one guy,’ or even better ’well that team is known for being dirty’ these kinds of horrible travesties cannot be taken lightly particularly when followed up by numerous cases of spousal and child abuse by fellow players.

In related news, high profile players from around the league have been pulled for various instances of violent behavior towards either women or children.

Carolina Panthers defensive-end, Greg hardy was able to play both in Week 1 and in Week 2 after which he was finally put on paid leave after he was found guilty on domestic violence charges that occurred earlier this summer. Also put on paid leave was Minnesota Vikings star running-back Adrian Peterson who was formally indicted last week for child abuse after he took a switch to his child resulting in numerous large bruises and lacerations.

To round things out, we have Arizona Cardinals running-back Jonathan Dwyer who allegedly head-butted his wife, breaking her nose, after she reportedly refused to have sex with him.

In case you couldn’t tell there is a problem here, and despite what NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says about doubling down on domestic violence and enforcing new penalties, if there are not real steps to fix the problem it will simply continue as it has in the league for decades now.

In fact, according to some sources the NFL has been engaging in a cover up of sorts in regards to the Ray Rice scandal in particular, in order to keep the superstar on the field and making them money.

Domestic violence has become such an issue over the past few years that the NFL has even gone as far as to incorporate the aspect into a kind of rookie orientation skit for rookies coming into the league. However, the issue is that by the time they arrive in the league, some of these young men have already engaged in such violence and in some cases have continued to do so with no repercussions due in part to their position as a high profile athlete.

Take for instance Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston who among other things has been formally investigated by police for sexual assault and recently suspended for a game for yelling offensive and vulgar comments about women off the field. However, even in our own backyard we at State can’t be too dismissive of the behavior of our football players as our very own highly talented running-back Shadrach Thornton was charged in June 2013 with a misdemeanor charge of assault on a female.

There is a systemic problem in not only football but in a society dominated by the need to achieve domination. If you look into many of the more recent cases, the players themselves usually lash out after an instance in which they feel as if they are losing control of a situation as if their pride and manhood were being tested by the likes of either a significant other or by that of a child.

As talented—and well paid—these athletes are they need to understand that with great power and influence, also comes great responsibilities that must be demonstrated.

As a fan, whether it is fair or not, I expect a player to perform admirably not only on the field but also off of it –whether that’s giving back to the community or just being a good man or dad in general. It might be a lot to handle but these are the expectations that have been set and which today’s athletes are expected to reach.

Those who do become stars and legends in their respective cities and in the league, for the ones that don’t they become infamous for all the wrong reasons. These are the people that will be loved and adored by millions of young people all over the nation, by continuing to show lenience towards domestic violence, the NFL makes it appear okay when it is never okay by any means.

Damaged pride or not it is never okay to engage in violence on a woman, child or anyone for that matter. As we examine the steps the league takes going forward, keep in mind what New York Giants Hall of Famer Michael Strahan said recently on the matter, “ I think one thing we’ve all learned this week is that we don’t know these people. We may root for them as fans and as media and we think we know them, but you don’t know what goes on in anybody’s house and what they’ve got behind closed doors, no matter what their public image is.”