Ray Rice, in this pathetic story that began with the Baltimore Ravens running back punching his then-fiancée/now wife in the jaw, watching her slam her head against a metal elevator rail, hardly caring and eventually dragging her completely knocked-out body outside, isn’t even the one with the most explaining to do.
Rice was arrested and charged for the assault, which was captured on a video acquired by TMZ, but the charge is slated to be dismissed after the completion of a diversion program.
Rice should’ve been suspended by the NFL for more than a meager two games for the incident that took place in an elevator at an Atlantic City casino. He wasn’t.
Rice should’ve been further sanctioned, fired, condemned – something – by the Baltimore Ravens. He wasn’t. Instead the team’s social media department all but celebrated him, and his coach defended his basic character.
And now the scandal the NFL for some reason wanted to just go away quietly is a full disaster as the Rice video began running in a horrible, yet important, loop on television and the Internet Monday morning.
By early afternoon Monday, the Ravens responded by cutting Rice; the NFL followed suit some 20 minutes later.
Commissioner Roger Goodell has long been motivated to “protect the shield” and has brought the hammer down on all sorts of player misbehavior during this tenure. Well, by somehow skipping this one, he’s done more damage to the league’s reputation than 1,000 DUIs.
No one expects a company to be bear the full responsibility of the personal problems of every off-duty employee, but how it acts – both punitively and/or in aiding recovery – speaks volumes about its priorities.
Goodell needs to explain this entire situation, this entire decision-making process, and not just in some well-crafted statement.
The NFL claims it sought video of the incident but was unable to acquire it, and never saw the footage until TMZ released it.
That speaks to a pathetic attempted investigation, if it can even be called an investigation. TMZ can get what the NFL can’t?
The Atlantic City Police Department, the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, the casino and Rice’s own attorney all had the ability to access the video. If the authorities and the casino wouldn’t cooperate with the league, then Goodell or the Ravens could’ve strong-armed the Rice camp.
Provide the video or he’s indefinitely suspended during the investigation. There was already video released of Rice pulling her unconscious body out of the elevator. The league and the team had every reason to be concerned about what happened on the inside before making a determination.
Instead, they went blind into a train wreck, hoping it was nothing.
Goodell has his critics, but no one can reasonably claim he’s the kind of guy who would look at this bit of awfulness and just shrug his shoulders. He needs to convey why the league doesn’t pursue information in these kinds of cases the way it does when the matter pertains to drugs. Goodell has always been a man who gets what he wants, so why didn’t he see the tape?
The same for Ravens owner Stephen Bisciotti, general manager Ozzie Newsome or coach John Harbuagh, all of whom you’d at least expect to demand to see the video of the attack before sanctioning Rice.
The leniency and lack of concern is a personal failure of all of the above. Make no mistake about it. It’s also an institutional one, however, because there has to be a measure of group think involved for so many different people to agree on a two-game suspension that was ridiculous even before the video became public.
The need for a full and thorough explanation includes authorities in Atlantic City who declined to prosecute Rice.
Sure there is all sorts of crime to deal with in that city, but if a grown man hauling off and beating a woman clear as day on casino security tape isn’t a prosecutable offense, then what exactly are they doing? This doesn’t require the victim’s cooperation. You can’t gain a conviction on this?
The lack of action from the police and the prosecutor’s office allowed Rice’s low-life attorney last spring to offer a loathsome “hypothetical” theory of how Rice wasn’t the aggressor. Many fans clung to that, suggesting there must be more to the story. When Rice's girlfriend married him anyway and the NFL went lenient, it gained some measure of unfortunate credibility with some.
That’s led to all sorts of vomit-inducing moments, ranging from Ravens fans cheering Rice’s return to training camp, to the team itself celebrating the player on social media, to media lecturing domestic violence victims on how they should avoid getting essentially sucker-punched by their men … NFL running backs or not.
We’re a few weeks from the NFL throwing pink on all its uniforms in an effort to tell women how much it cares about them – and, of course, making money off the deal while kicking a few bucks to cancer research.
How about trying something more than just marketing outreach for a change?
The NFL could clearly use a little more diversity of action, which this case illustrates how it can be a positive for a company, not just an obligation.
Look, men are just as shocked as women, if not more, by the Rice video. We know how unthinkable it would be to throw a full-force punch at a defenseless female. Or we should.
We want Rice to be served up as an example to other men, especially young men, that this isn’t tolerable, that there is no place for this, ever. We don't want this to ever happen to our sisters or daughters or nieces or cousins. It has to end, and the end has to come from all sides.
Ray Rice doesn’t represent us. He represents the worst of us.
But men failed here, lots of men. Having a woman, or more women, in the review process of this case might have caused someone to look at it differently, to demand an investigation that was thorough. Maybe someone would’ve spoken up and put the brakes on the heels of limited suspensions, considering there was such limited information. Maybe this would’ve been taken with the gravity it required.
It shouldn’t take that, but apparently it did.
Instead we’re left with this, TMZ pulling up the rug that this incident was swept under.
So please explain, Roger and John and Stephen and Ozzie and anyone else who shrugged it off originally and never bothered to pursue the truth.