I’m not writing today to summarize the events that led to the eventual release of Ray Rice by the Ravens on Monday. The sad truth is that the brutal elevator video, unearthed and released by celebrity gossip site TMZ, does a far better job explaining why Mr. Rice is unemployed than I ever could. This stunning move has obvious fantasy impact, but I think there’s something more to be discussed here that just adds and drops or starts and sits. Ray Rice, the Ravens, and Roger Goodell have led everyone a merry chase, and I’ve really just had enough of it. The lip service and hypocrisy from Rice, the Ravens, and Goodell (and by association the NFL) have seriously reached a new low this week.
Rice lied about the events of that night from the beginning, so in no way should we now be shocked to find out there was more to the story. After TMZ outed him by releasing the initial video on February 19th, he met with both the Ravens and Commission Goodell, and sold both on ‘his side of the story’. I wasn’t there, but I think we can safely conclude that he left out the part where he knocked out his fiancé standing up. Shortly after marrying her, he sat in front of TV cameras with a straight face while she stated that she ‘deeply regretted the role she played the night of the incident’. He’s such a lowlife – there’s pond scum I’d rank higher. It’s obviously quite fashionable to rave about how there’s no place for domestic violence in football (or anywhere) but Ray Rice was enabled by others. The Ravens were clearly among the culprits.
The Baltimore Ravens clearly enabled Rice to do his worst. They interviewed him shortly after the incident, with Coach Harbaugh stating, “Ray has told me his side of it, and everything we’ve seen so far is very consistent with what he said.” They did no digging, asked no hard questions, and therefore shockingly what they saw (nothing) agreed with Rices side. They were hopeful that the whole thing would blow over. Why? Rice was one of the faces of their franchise, a true (until last year) stud running back for a team with yearly playoff aspirations. He put butts in the seats, and points on the board. Baltimore fans cheered Rice when he was on the field during preseason, and the Ravens triumphantly live-tweeted the press conference, specifically when Janay Palmer apologized for her role. Those tweets have now been deleted.
The two game suspension was nothing to the Ravens. They showed their true colors here, and it’s perfect that they wear black on Sundays. Everyone in the world knew Ray Rice struck Janay Palmer in that elevator. The Ravens only released Ray Rice once it was absolutely, unequivocally clear that it was the only thing they could do. But you can’t only blame the Ravens here, because the NFL and Commissioner Goodell may have enabled them as much as they enabled Ray.
To truly understand how ludicrous this situation is, you first must consider the size of the NFL. If you put all the revenues together, team values, ticket and merchandise prices, the whole thing, you’re looking at upwards of $20 BILLION. That’s Billion with a B, not to be confused with the little-brother M. This colossal industry has had a domestic violence problem for years, but since February this Ray Rice situation they’ve been dealing with has had the potential to give the league a serious black eye, without a doubt the single most high-profile case of it’s kind for the league. The NFL has resources that you and I can’t possibly imagine, experts and advisors of all kinds on all levels, and more lawyers on retainer than Alex Rodriguez. With this in mind, I have two questions:
How is it possible that the NFL, a colossus of industry, who stated publicly that they were finding all the facts to really get a handle of the situation….how is it possible they were out not only once by TMZ, but twice? Where were they looking for these facts, for these tapes? In their mailbox? It is incomprehensible to me that had an internet gossip site not posted these videos, Ray Rice would have gotten away with this more or less scot-free.
Second question: Faced with a chance to really make his mark and draw a line in the sand, how could Commissioner Goodell be content to suspend Rice for only two games? The NFL effectively said “Beating your wife will cost you, but taking drugs or driving under the influence will cost you far more.”
Goodell really blew it here. Instead of handing down the justice that was warranted, he hid behind it – the criminal justice system, that is. Rice was placed in a diversionary program for first-time offenders, and Goodell commented, “…In this case, there was no discipline by the criminal justice system. They put him in that diversionary program.” This is the same man who has made it clear time and time again that membership in the league is a privilege, and he will revoke it regardless of outside proceedings if he sees fit. He is judge, jury, and appeals court.
But Goodell wasn’t quite done. He misjudged the public outcry against such an asinine suspension for such a serious act. Pressure mounted quickly, and on August 28th, Goodell announced a much harsher domestic abuse penalty, stating, “…My disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment, and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families…”. He only did it because the public forced him to. In a vacuum, he believed that his garbage two game suspension was perfectly well justified.
Rice, the Ravens, and Goodell all figured they had this situation just about solved. Rice would sit out two games, the Ravens would stand by their man, and Goodell would look like a hero for stiffening his domestic violence policy. None of them figured on the video TMZ released on Monday. Rice deserves what he got and far worse. I’m hopeful he never plays another down in the NFL. But to watch the Ravens and the Commissioner caught with their pants down inside their own circle of complicity and BS is just jaw dropping. They’re all jokers, and they’re three of a kind.