In the early morning hours of February 15 at Revel Atlantic City, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was arrested in Atlantic City after an incident with his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer. According to police there were no injuries to either party. The responding officers reported that surveillance video shows both parties were involved in a physical altercation and that Rice and Palmer struck each other with their hands. Subsequently, a simple assault complaint was signed against each party.
A few days later, TMZ release video of Rice dragging Palmer, unconscious, from the elevator where the incident occurred. At this early point, those following the bouncing ball should have been asking what video the responding officers saw, because even at this stage, the TMZ video seemed to conflict with the police report.
In the insuing months,
- Rice was indicted by an Atlantic County grand jury on a charge of third-degree aggravated assault (the charge against Palmer was dropped).
- Rice and Palmer got married.
- Rice plead not guilty to aggravated assault and applied for a program for first-time offenders that could clear him of charges in one year
- The Ravens held a news conference with Rice and Palmer wherein Rice apologized for "the situation my wife and I were in."
- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell met with Rice and Palmer at league headquarters in New York. (Note that in his fact finding mission, Goodell met with the abuse victim and the abuser at the same time).
- Several days later, the NFL announced a two-game suspension for Rice, which Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome called a "significant" but "fair" punishment.
- In early August, in response to criticism for Rice's punishment, the NFL announced a new, harsher policy for domestic violence and other violent conduct; A six game ban under the personal conduct policy, and a lifetime ban for a second offense. In a letter, Goodell admits that he got the Rice punishment wrong, without mentioning Rice by name.
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. I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I didn't get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will."Note, however, that admitting that he got the punishment wrong did not include modifying the punishment.
- Finally, on Sept. 8, TMZ released surveillance footage from inside the elevator showing Rice punching Palmer. Almost immediately, the Ravens terminated Rice's contract and Goodell announced Rice's indefinite suspension from the NFL. Coach Harbaugh told reporters:
"It's something we saw for the first time today, well all of us. It changed things, of course. And it made things a little bit different."
My question for Harbaugh, for Goodell and for all of those now shocked by the second video and feigning concern is how does this make things a little bit different? If the first video showed Rice dragging an unconscious woman's body out of an elevator and carelessly dropping her on the lobby floor, particullarly since Rice didn't claim that elevator gremlins descended from the ceiling and attacked her; in fact at some point, he even admitted punching her, why do you need ocular proof of the pummeling before outrage ensues? Two people go in an elevator, one person angrily drags the other out, it's a sequitur assumption, the person still standing was the victor and the details of the battery are secondary, unless someone is asserting that he tickled her unconscious. Yes, Mr. Goodell, the NFL, indeed has to do better, but there is no indication that you will, for this behavior is par for the course, you see;
- These same Ravens, have erected a statue of the murderer, Ray Lewis in front of their stadium.
- In April 21, 2010, Goodell suspended Ben Roethlisberger without pay for the first six games of the 2010 season due to a violation of the NFL's personal conduct policy, amid charges of sexual assault. Note here, that civil authorities declined to prosecute, and yet the league took action, which means its likely that Roethlisberger told the NFL more than he told the civil authorities.
- On the morning of Saturday, December 1st, 2012, Jovan Belcher, linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, shot and killed his girlfriend in their home then drove to Arrowhead stadium and committed suicide in front of several Kansas City Chiefs staff members. In response, the Chiefs decided to play the Panthers the next day, as if nothing at all had happened.
- Reaching way, way back, in 1989, Dexter Manley was banned for life, by a different commissioner, Paul Tagliabue. Though this doesn't involve sexual assault or domestic violence, I reach way back to mention this case because, as it turned out, Manley's lifetime suspension lasted only one year. Notice then, Rice was suspended indefinitely. For those familiar with the English language, Lifetime means forever and ever, which to the NFL means one (1) calendar year. Indefinite however, by definition, has no fixed time span, so in football speak, it simply means, until we change our minds. It is therefore likely, Rice will rise again.
What I find most particularly confusing, is the recurring themes I've seen on social media about the subject, two of the stupidest being, it's not fair for the Ravens to fire Rice because he was already suspended by the league and well, Ray Lewis and Micheal Vick got to keep playing... and just stupid, stupid excuses for letting Rice back in the league. Since its likely that these stupid statements were first fostered by sports casters, I think its important to say here, that if you are repeating a point you heard on ESPN, unless that point was authored by Keith Oberman or Dave Zirin, its probably idiocy. Sports caster purposely fashion phrases to sound logical to guys who are already at least two beers into a six-pack; so if that stupid phrase seems logical to you, and worth repeating, perhaps you need to put down the glass and think about it before you repeat it.
I'm just saying.