You don’t have to be a sports fanatic to know about 27-year old Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice these days. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, you’ve seen the “second” video obtained and released by TMZ of this testosterone-mutant pummeling his then-fianceé, Janay Palmer, unconscious and then dragging her body out of a hotel elevator in Atlantic City in February. An earlier video showed only Mr. Rice dragging her out of the elevator.
Mr. Rice was initially suspended for two games. After the second video was released this past Monday, the Ravens terminated his contract. The NFL followed up by suspending him indefinitely – only after the second video was released. Even though I care nothing about football, I would bet dollars to doughnuts that he’s an extremely good player and that’s why he was able to continue playing all these months after the incident.
I’m not going to discuss domestic violence. I’ve dealt with thousands of children in my dependency law career to know enough about the effects of abuse on victims and the psychological motivation of abusers. Whether Mr. Rice can be helped, I don’t know. Whether Mrs. Rice will seek help, I don’t know that either. I do know that she married this guy after this beating. It does not surprise me.
What I don’t get is the current media frenzy surrounding the newly-released tape obtained by TMZ showing the actual beating and the controversy surrounding the NFL’s actions or inactions in obtaining the tape itself from the hotel and if and when it actually received a copy of the tape earlier than this week.
A law enforcement official says he sent the video to an NFL executive in April, while Commissioner Roger Goodell has insisted no one at the NFL saw the violent images until this week when it was released by TMZ. The official played The Associated Press a 12-second voicemail from an NFL office number on April 9 confirming the video arrived. A female voice expresseed thanks and said: “You’re right. It’s terrible.”
Who exactly this woman is remains unclear. Was it a cleaning lady? Someone in the mail room? An administrator or other executive? No one apparently knows.
Who really cares when the NFL received the tape or when it was viewed? Call me cynical, but, really, does it make a difference? Oh, Mr. Goodell, will probably take the heat; maybe he’ll even get fired. Some sacrificial lamb will be offered up to appease the media and organizations like NOW. Whoever is fired, the symbolic gesture will be made to show that the NFL really cares about domestic violence. Blah, blah, blah. I don’t know. I don’t care. But the bottom line is, so what? Guys like Mr. Rice are hired because of their aggression. They’re not hired because they get low scores for violent tendencies on an MMPI. They’re hired because they’re animals. That’s what football’s all about. People don’t watch football because it’s civilized. (If you want civilized, watch chess.) Why, then, should anyone be surprised when that aggression spills over into the players’ personal lives?
And, of course, Mr. Rice, is not the first and he won’t be the last.
Data shows that 14 players who are currently active in the NFL have a history of domestic violence or accusations in their past. There have been 89 separate incidents of domestic violence since 2000. Some were either released or have retired. But many carried on with their careers. And many were not suspended during the legal process.
Even Greg Hardy, of the Carolina Panthers, who was found guilty by a judge of assaulting and threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend (but awaiting a jury trial, allowed by North Carolina law) will continue to play.
Even after the second tape was released, I saw Mr. Rice’s female fans this week wearing his #27 jersey. Here’s what one had to say. “There’s two sides to every story,” said a 23-year-old waitress from Baltimore. “I saw the video. That’s their personal business, and it shouldn’t have affected his career. I don’t agree with domestic violence, but she’s still with him, so obviously it wasn’t that big of a deal. Everyone should just drop it.” Well, there you go.
So, the question remains, who cares when the second video was received by the NFL and who cares when the NFL higher ups actually saw it.
If it is proven that the tape was viewed by the NFL back in April and they did nothing about it, what’s going to happen to the NFL? Maybe a few heads will roll, but does it mean that the NFL is out of business? I don’t think so. People, like that idiotic 23-year old waitress will disregard the evidence staring them in the face and continue to support animals like Ray Rice.
Basketball is no different. If you don’t believe me, read Jeff Benedict’s book, “Out of Bounds: Inside the NBA’s Culture of Rape, Violence, and Crime.” I cannot tell you how sickening it was to visit Los Angeles dozens of times and see the face of that miscreant, Koby Bryant, on the wall facing the escalator down to baggage claim welcoming me to Los Angeles.
The NFL is in the business of making money. If the player is mediocre, they’d probably dump him in a heartbeat. These are talented guys who make the team and league billions of dollars. I understand that.
So, please don’t insult my intelligence with all this feigned surprise and concern when videos surface. The NFL and the teams know exactly what they’re dealing with. They know about their players’ criminal behavior but keep them on the payroll.
This whole Ray Rice thing is just a bump in the road. Football is not pretty. It’s violent. As soon as Mr. Rice’s 15-minutes are over, the NFL will have to deal with yet another player’s behavior. It’s all part of the game. It will survive.
Aaron Perlut, an expert on sports marketing who has worked for the Miami Heat and the PGA Tour, says “the NFL has built an extraordinarily durable brand.”
Fans continue to spend hard-earned money to watch these games live or on home tvs, spend thousands on sports memorabilia, continue to support these mutants, and will continue to tolerate bad behavior from their players. Ray Rice is certainly not the first and he definitely will not be the last. As Mr. Perlut said, “ultimately, the passion that Americans have for their football teams is remarkable.”
I don’t get it, but if you do, God bless you.