Ray Rice is a former running back for the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League. For those that are foreign, the National Football League is the professional league for American football. An incident occurred between Rice and his then fiancée, now wife, Janay Palmer, in a hotel elevator in Atlantic City on February 15, 2014. Both were arrested for simple assault and refused medical treatment. If you aren’t familiar with the situation, let’s explore the major events in a timeline and the aftermath.
NOTE: I have included a link to the video. It contains violent acts. Please use discretion if you intend to view it.
February 19, 2014 – the website and celebrity gossip organization, TMZ Sports, released a video showing Rice dragging Palmer’s unconscious body from the elevator and propping her up against the wall.
March 27, 2014 – Rice is indicted by an Atlantic City grand jury on a charge of third degree assault. Charges are dropped against Palmer.
March 28, 2014 – Rice and Palmer marry.
May 1, 2014 – Rice pleads not guilty to aggravated assault and applies to a program for first-time offenders that could potentially clear of him charges within one year.
May 20, 2014 – Rice goes into the diversionary program for first-time offenders.
May 23, 2014 – Rice holds a press conference to discuss the situation.
July 24, 2014 – Rice is given a two game suspension by National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell after he and Palmer met with Goodell in June.
August 1, 2014 – Goodell addresses the media for the first time in the midst of backlash against the length of the punishment and its perceived weakness. He defends his decision by saying, “I take into account all of the information before I make a decision on what the discipline will be. In this case, there was no discipline by the criminal justice system. They put him in that diversionary program.”
August 28, 2014 – The National Football League adopts a new policy for domestic violence where first time offenders receive a six game ban under the personal conduct policy. The possibility for longer suspensions exist for extenuating circumstances. A second offense will result in a ban for life.
September 8, 2014 – TMZ Sports releases a new video from inside the elevator showing Rice and Palmer striking one another. Rice subsequently knocks out Palmer with a left hook and proceeds to drag her body from the elevator and prop it up.
September 8, 2014 – In the midst of the new video release, the Baltimore Ravens terminate Rice’s contract and he is banned indefinitely by the league.
The NFL should be ashamed.
The Baltimore Ravens should be ashamed.
The NFL’s actions should not be applauded.
What new piece of evidence did we learn from the release of the video on September 8th? We already knew Rice struck his wife. He admitted it. The release of the new video only brings to life what we already knew and shows how foolish the NFL’s actions were. The punishment of two games for a brutal domestic violence attack while other players are routinely punished for four games as first time offenders for taking banned substances is laughable and shows where the league’s priorities lay. It also shows that the NFL and the Ravens were apparently not able to grasp the idea of the violence that occurred that night. Rice admitted he knocked out Palmer. A video showing the action shouldn’t be needed to grasp that idea. Is the league that delusional, does not care, or did this show that this type of violence isn’t a priority to them?
One could argue based upon past transgressions by players and the minimal punishments given, that perhaps the league doesn’t care. The league has been given a black eye by players charged with manslaughter by driving under the influence, shootings, and other such violent acts, and they had YET ANOTHER chance to send a message to their employees that they were not going to stand for this type of behavior. Being a first time offender, the league should have levied a harsher punishment against Rice by banning him for 8 games and setting policy that the next incident would result in a life-time ban.
Instead, the two game ban came off as weak and as a joke in light of the four game suspensions given to first time offenders for banned substances. Both the Ravens and NFL made a decision to stand by their employee, and when the realism of the brutality that occurred in that situation came to light, which was apparently lost on them in the fact that a human being was knocked unconscious, they turned their back on him. This was nothing more than a feeble attempt to pat themselves on the back and make themselves appear they were doing the right thing. But, isn’t this punishment now in contrast to the policy adopted on August 28th?
Once Goodell realized the two game suspension was a mistake, he had plenty of time to correct that mistake by taking a harsher stance, extending the suspension and setting policy, and sending a message. Instead, he and the Ravens did nothing until the second video came out, in a fruitless effort to save face, make amends for their previous poor decision, and distance themselves from a situation which everyone else already knew was terrible. It also gives proof that the NFL apparently did not grasp the seriousness of the situation initially. Some people will applaud this decision, only looking at it on the surface, but others will look deeper, realize a valuable opportunity was lost here to show that the league will not stand for this senseless and careless violence from its employees, and are also left to question whether the NFL truly gets it or is merely being reactive.