Kenneth K. • Lam/Baltimore Sun/MCT Ravens running back Ray Rice, right, and his wife Janay made statements to the news media May 5, at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills, Md, regarding his assault charge for knocking her unconscious in a New Jersey casino. On Monday, Rice was let go from the Baltimore Ravens after a video surfaced from TMZ showing the incident.
The domestic violence case against former Ravens running back Ray Rice demonstrates not only a failure in character, but failure of those whose job it is to monitor that.
While stories of what happened the night of Rice’s assault on his then-fiancée Janay Palmer continue to surface, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is maintaining his stance as the blind elephant in the room.
Goodell’s claim that no one within the NFL had seen the tape before it became public on Monday still cannot be justified. However, claiming the league did everything in its power to gain access to the tape is simply false.
Your security team, the people in charge of finding such information, is made up of former FBI agents and law enforcement officials whose jobs are to uncover such incidents. You have a multi-billion dollar industry with connections that reach to the moon.
You were even given sources from witnesses who were at the Atlantic City Casino where it all happened. The casino itself even came out and said they would have presented the tape to you and the NFL if approached. You could have bought the casino with all the money the NFL rakes in each a year. But no, you did nothing, other than assume and give him a two-game suspension as a way of “playing it safe.”
According to a recent Associated Press article, a law enforcement official had shown NFL executives the tape back in April. If what the article claims is true, in that Goodell and anyone in an NFL office had seen the tape and knowingly lied to everyone, then there’s nothing to argue. They have to step down.
So if you are Goodell, essentially you have two options. Tell people that your “elite” security staff had absolutely zero knowledge of the video’s existence and look like an idiot, or lie to everyone to cover yourself and the NFL’s prideful reputation. Idiot or liar, either way, it doesn’t look good.
The NFL has seen similar stories play out in years past. There have been 85 cases of domestic violence among players since 2000. Even the week before the Rice incident occurred, Ray McDonald of the 49ers was arrested for possible domestic violence of his own. It could be a case of coincidence or a case of a system and a culture that simply doesn’t take these issues seriously enough.
From Congress to current NFL players, it seems everyone has had a say in this ongoing debacle – all but Rice himself. From fans cheering him on during practice last weekend to a video of a woman dumping cat litter on his jersey, the shift from hero to villain happened literally overnight.
There’s no question, Rice has no business being in an NFL uniform this year. However, the NFL has also seen similar stories of amazing comebacks. From Michael Vick to Ricky Williams to Plaxico Burress, Rice deserves a second chance. But Rice has a lot of personal development and soul-searching to do before he puts on another NFL jersey. Whether he goes through with it remains to be seen.
But this colossal error in judgment doesn’t start with the NFL, it reaches as far as the justice system in Atlantic City. The league had reportedly approached New Jersey State Police about the video, but were denied access.
However, the New Jersey State Police never even had the video, claiming that the incident occurred in Atlantic City and was handled by the local Atlantic City Police Department. They share the guilt, along with Atlantic County prosecutors who dropped all charges on Rice and let him off with anger management classes.