The REAL Damage Caused By Ray Rice & The NFL

Originally suspended for a paltry 2 games by NFL Commish Roger Goodell, these new verdicts came down only after “The Elevator Video”, showing Rice’s abhorrent behavior, was released to the public. Besides the obvious, what else happened in that elevator? Sadly, a scenario where everyone loses.

 

Ray Rice has been released by the Baltimore Ravens, and suspended indefinitely by the NFL, for domestic violence against his then-girlfriend/now wife Janay Rice.  Originally suspended for a paltry 2 games by NFL Commish Roger Goodell, these new verdicts came down only after “The Elevator Video”, showing Rice’s abhorrent behavior, was released to the public.  If you’ve seen the video (and by now you most likely have, even though the ESPN affiliates have decided to stop running it), you’re probably just as outraged as I am.  Besides the obvious, what else happened in that elevator?   Sadly, a scenario where everyone loses.

I grew up with this garbage.  From as early as I can remember, my dad abused alcohol, then my mother, and it was always physical.  I’ll spare the details, but suffice to say, the local police and fire departments, along with a few members of the hospital staff, came to know us all far too well.  On each occasion mom would take him back, which made me hate him more and more and resent her for not getting away from it all, continually subjecting my sister and I to this constant fear.  None of us really know why Janay took him back, then married him after the fact, but it brought back frightening memories of my childhood.   I hate it when men abuse women.  It’s cowardice of the worst kind, a bigger, stronger, type A male who’s angry at the world and takes it out on a woman, acting his frustrations out physically on a weaker partner, then excuses his behavior because he had….a reason.  Too many stories exist where a woman gets a restraining order, only to find herself bloodied yet again, or worse.  It’s amazing to me how our court system believes that a piece of paper will protect a woman from an angry, deranged abuser.  They should all be in jail, every one of them, on the first offense, including professional athletes…yeah, right.  Sometimes, ‘better late than never’ just doesn’t cut it.

There are many stories within the story.  Besides the painfully obvious, pun intended, the NFL, one of the richest and largest professional conglomerates in existence, now looks foolish and small.  The question remains as to how a filthy, back-alley, underhanded, little guy like TMZ can obtain a video that the NFL claims to have had no knowledge of.  I’m not buying it for a second, and in an interview on Sports Radio 810 WHB’s ‘Between The Lines’, hosted by Kevin Keitzman, former NFL Head Coach Herm Edwards was adamant that it’s the NFL’s JOB to get it.  I absolutely agree.  He even alluded to a parent hearing a story from their child by saying, from a father’s point of view, “OK, you told me the story, now tell me the truth!”  How ironic that the NFL plays the part of the child in this scenario.  Another issue is why didn’t the NFL have a policy in place, for players convicted of domestic violence, months, or even years ago??  Apparently, football is life, and it’s more important than a woman’s safety.  A ‘No-tolerance’ policy is only good when it’s followed up on, and I’ll quote Herm Edwards one more time, when he stated “The life has to match the words.”  Not in the NFL, Herm.  And what about the NFL, after finding that Rice abused his then girlfriend, suspended him for 2 games?  2 games!!  For PUNCHING A WOMAN!  Ray Rice is 5 feet nothing but can bench press a truck.  He knocked her out cold, she hit her head on a railing, and was dragged out of the elevator.  2 games.  When Roger Goodell was given the job, he instantly became a sniper, lying in wait for vicious, on-the-field play, as well as PED abusers.  He was the toast of the town, and the NFL was officially “cleaning up”, even though its’ reputation wasn’t bad at all.  I think ESPNW writer Kate Fagan said it best in a recent interview, calling Goodell’s 2 game suspension “reactive vs. proactive”.  It was an obvious reaction, the incorrect one, then once a video surfaces and brings bad publicity, then it’s an indefinite suspension.  All of this jockeying for position and poor decision making caused the REAL story to get lost; men are hurting women, and the NFL didn’t care enough to get tough enough to stop it, or at least lessen it.  By doing little, they enabled it.  The money became bigger than the victim.

Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson hasn’t suspended or released DE Greg Hardy, convicted of domestic violence, because Hardy has appealed the decision.  ESPN’s John Clayton stated that the 49ers Ray McDonald case will be “judged as it goes”.  I would like to ask every owner in the NFL one question, then have a cartoon bubble over their head revealing the first thing that comes to their mind when I ask it.  The question: What would you do if your star player was convicted of domestic violence?  How many bubbles would have a “$” sign in it?  I’d be willing to bet it would be most of them, and until one of them proves me wrong, history proves me right.

I used to respect Roger Goodell.  Even Ray Rice.  They’ve both lost that respect.  Ray Rice is a bully, and whether his wife Janay stayed with him for love or money or the thought that she just couldn’t leave him, she’s a victim.  I used to respect the NFL for their integrity.  They’ve hired former FBI director Robert Mueller to head an “independent investigation” into the NFL, and Goodell has pledged full disclosure, all in an effort to hang on to any shred of integrity they think they have left.  I believe it’s too late for that.  Roger Goodell was a poser who used his power to pledge a crackdown that was selective at best.  Through this entire situation, there are so many losers.  Goodell and Rice are losers in the bad sense of the word.  Janay Rice loses not only because she’s a victim, but now she is forced to defend herself with the massive media crush.  The NFL loses because it hired a person who they thought was the right man for the job.  Instead, he’s allowed himself to be influenced by the owners, and his attempt to play both sides has now backfired, and might cost him his job.   NFL owners lose because they should have had better policies in place a long time ago, and to put it plainly, it makes them look bad.  The US Justice system loses it’s flawed, and a growing distrust gets even larger.  The media loses because it either played the video too long, or it’s being accused of sensationalizing the situation for ratings.  In all this losing, there is one bright spot, and it’s a big one: if more awareness and less tolerance of domestic violence is now in place, maybe more women like my mother won’t have to live with fear, pain, confusion, self-doubt and the scars of choosing the wrong man.  And maybe, just maybe, children that idolize their favorite pro athlete will actually find out that the player they most admire really does have good character, practices what they preach, breathes integrity and respects women.  After all, aren’t those the qualities we teach our kids to emulate when choosing a ‘role model’?

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