Let’s start with what we all know. Ray Rice beat the hell out of wife (then-fiance) Janay Palmer in an elevator in Atlantic City a few months ago.
Let’s follow that with what new news we received this weekend: Nothing.
The video released showed nothing more than what we all already knew happened. Rice admitted to it, and the NFL punished him (I use the term to describe his 2-game suspension loosely) for it. Rice’s wife has gone out and spoken about how they are working on their relationship and they went on to get married, happily so by all reports. Furthermore, many (myself incuded) believe that this video had already been seen by the NFL and at the very least they knew it existed and CHOSE not to view it.
Now let me make it clear that I’m a firm believer that most people who abuse their partners in any way often are going to do it again. That said, why don’t we go after those guys who actually do, rather than putting Rice’s head on a stake because it was on video? It’s graphic, it’s horrifying and the lack of empathy shown as he drags her body off the elevator is terrifying. But in a league, and a fan base, who has no problem heralding convicted murders and cheering on rapists, where do we get off claiming this guy ought to never be allowed to earn a paycheck again?
Charges weren’t pressed, punishments WERE handed down, and by all accounts he’s doing everything right since. He’s in counseling and while I don’t think all of his actions have been perfect (see: The “Apologetic” Press Conference in which he opens by apologizing to everyone besides Janay) his behavior since seems about on-par with what you’d like to see; a guy trying to do the right thing after fucking up epically.
Many people I’ve spoken to are outraged that I think Rice ought to be allowed back in the league (though I think the original suspension should’ve been longer than 2 games). More still think I’m apologizing for his behavior and I’m not. But if you’re looking for a guy to go after, to make him the face of domestic abuse in athletes I do think this is a terrible choice. There have been hoards of athletes who’ve been convicted of multiple assaults on their significant others. There are athletes with 11 kids from 11 mothers many of whom they assaulted. Here in New England we only need to go back about 12-15 years to remember running back Dave Megget who was convicted of rape or Aaron Hernandez who fucking MURDERED somebody. In Kansas City last year a linebacker murdered his child’s mother before taking his own life and got about 10% of the attention this is getting.
I’m all for bring domestic abuse to the forefront of the conversation, I think it is an important issue that needs to be addressed, and in a violent sport that is home to many of our sons’ heroes we need to be keenly aware of the example we’re setting. All I’m saying is perhaps this should’ve started long ago; It shouldn’t take a video for the NFL to do something about it, and it sure as hell shouldn’t take weeks of public pressure and a SECOND video for them to take any serious action. I am sad for Janae Palmer and hope that Ray Rice is serious about getting help, but I am far more sad for NFL fans, specifically for those with kids, who’ve had to wait this long to watch the NFL bumble it’s way through attempting to address an issue their league has had for generations and one they are unwilling to admit is real. This story is about the NFL and how they’ve turned a blind eye to domestic assaults for decades, it shouldn’t be about taking Ray Rice to task.