It was nearly seven months ago when Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice engaged in a physical altercation with his then fiancee (now wife) Janay Palmer. At the time, there was a grainy video released showing Rice emerging from an elevator dragging an unconscious Palmer out into the lobby. It seemed pretty obvious that Palmer was on the worse end of this domestic dispute. Rice would eventually be charged with third-degree aggravated assault.
A few months later, the Ravens organization inexplicably thought it would be a good idea to hold a joint press conference with Rice and his wife. Rice took the time to apologize to the Ravens fans as well as Ravens officials like owner Steve Bisciotti, GM Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh. Strange that he didn't immediately think to make a public apology to his wife, no? Two months later, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Rice a mere two games.
After that disastrous May press conference, the Ravens' official Twitter feed chose to tweet out the following:
If that tweet seemed incredibly tone deaf then imagine the context when TMZ released video footage Monday of how Ms. Palmer wound up in an unconscious state. While exchanging slaps and shoves with Palmer before entering the elevator, Rice culminated the fracas by hitting her so hard that she went airborne before smacking her head on a railing. The outcry from this video being released was so rampant that the Ravens organization had no choice but to terminate Rice's contract immediately and, in the process, delete the aforementioned May 2014 tweet.
As I went through the timeline of the aftermath of the February 2014 incident, I couldn't help but see a complete bungling at every level.
- First, the legal process. How could the state of New Jersey be so lenient on Rice as to slap him with a mere third degree assault, with a chance to have the conviction removed from his record if he successfully completes a diversionary program? Shameful.
- When it was learned that Rice would be suspended for only two games, outrage ensued. A month later, Goodell announced a change in the personal conduct policy regarding domestic violence. First offenders would receive a six game suspension, with a second offense constituting a one-year ban with no guarantee of reinstatement. Since this is Rice's first offense, the letter of the law indicates only a six game ban. But the embattled commish upped Rice's punishment Monday to an "indefinite" suspension. It'll be interesting to see how the NFL Players Union addresses this, if it does at all.
- At best, the commissioner's office acted incompetently and at worst is guilty of a cover up. If Goodell's office didn't see the video of the actual punch, did they not think to make an attempt at obtaining footage? The NFL is a mutli-billion dollar entity that has acted as judge and jury when meting out player punishment. Wouldn't it behoove them to have all the arsenal at its disposal before deciding Rice's fate? Ah, but Goodell et al claim to have never seen the footage of the punch. If indeed that's a lie, it would be very difficult to prove unless a rogue NFL employee can substantiate that statement being false.
While many feel Rice finally has been sufficiently punished (at least from a football standpoint), a lot of people expressed anger at how the NFL and the Ravens organization had to be shamed into making the decisions they did on Monday. But if you feel that Rice should never play in the NFL again, you've likely gotten your wish, so who cares how we arrived there? Plus there has to be some satisfaction that the stuff-shirt NFL execs got their lunch eaten by a Hollywood gossip web site.