PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- The National Football League didn't suspend Ray Rice only two games for knocking out his fiancee because it doesn't care about women: It did so because it doesn't care about their money.
Earlier this year, the Baltimore Ravens running back knocked out his fiancee in the elevator of an Atlantic City casino and dragged her out, unconscious, in full view of security cameras. He was indicted by a grand jury on a felony assault charge, but avoided prosecution by agreeing to enroll in a one-year program for first-time offenders.
Since then, fans have heard a number of justifications for the NFL not dropping the hammer on Rice: He and his fiancee married the next day, she insulted and hit him and the couple held a press conference in which they jointly apologized for Rice knocking her out. The Ravens even made sure to send out a tweet framing the situation in just the right light:
Janay Rice says she deeply regrets the role that she played the night of the incident.— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) May 23, 2014
Last week, the NFL suspended Rice for the first two games of the season. That's about half the suspension an NFL player would receive for smoking marijuana three times during the offseason and two-fifths what that player would receive for stomping on another player during a game.
That doesn't mean the NFL doesn't care about women, as Jezebel argued while going over a lengthy list of domestic violence incidents and outright beatings involving NFL players. It doesn't mean that the league thinks women should bear responsibility for violence against them, as ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith suggested on air before being unofficially suspended earlier this week. It also doesn't mean that ESPN's Keith Olbermann was right when he insisted “The message to the women who the league claims constitute 50% of its fan base is simple: The NFL wants your money. It will do nothing else for you.”
Nope, Olbermann was way off the mark. The league doesn't even want women's money. This is a league that brings in close to $10 billion a year largely because it leaves no source of revenue untapped. It gets $1.9 billion per season from ESPN for Monday Night Football alone. It rakes in $1 billion a year from NBC, CBS and Fox for regular-season and playoff games. It just took an extra $275 million from CBS this year for the rights to Thursday Night Football and is about to squeeze DirecTV (DTV - Get Report) for more money from its NFL Sunday Ticket out-of-town games package that already earns the league $1 billion a year.