I've sort of had my head in the news sand since before going away on vacation a month-ish ago. But Monday's revelations about Ray Rice, the Ravens and the NFL are just unbelievable. There are so many things this one incident shines a bright and horrifying light on. Domestic violence, misogyny, greed, moral bankruptcy, indifference to violence, and Greedy McGreedness. Seriously, there are any number of thesis papers that could get written.
For the record I don't watch football anymore. I stopped watching years ago. It had become less and less about the game and more and more about the money. You cannot talk about the Ray Rice incident without talking about the fact that the league is an economic juggernaut. It's moneyed reach goes into many pockets and industries. The advertising, entertainment, and fashion industries just to name a few.
If I understand the timeline correctly, the incident (Rice cold-cocking his then fiancée, Janay Palmer, in an elevator) happened last February. There was video evidence of the after effects on the interwebs tabloid outlet, TMZ. The video was of Rice dragging her unconscious body out of the elevator. They were both arrested. They were both charged with simple assault. The case was then presented to a grand jury: charges against Palmer were dropped, Rice's charges were upped to aggravated assault. Then they got married (splorch. what?). After lengthy radio silence, there was a Ravens/NFL press conference with the Rices in May. At that press conference, Ray Rice apologized for his actions. To the team, his coach, his teammates, the Ravens owners, to his fans, to everyone on the planet except to his wife, who was sitting next to him, the one he cold-cocked in an elevator.
Then, unbelievably, Janay Rice said she regretted and apologized for her part in the incident. WTF? Exsqueeze me? Whatever happened in that elevator, no matter what preceded the blow, she should not be apologizing for anything (Seriously? What dumbass PR guy thought that would be a good idea? Does that guy still have a job?). And apparently, according to internet trolls it was her fault. She should just stop running into her fiancée's fist. Disgusting.
Then in September, the professional punishment was handed down. For being charged with aggravated assault and knocking your wife out, you get a two game suspension. WTF?
Then, this past Monday, TMZ released a second video showing the incident in total. Of Ray Rice, full-on punching Janay in the face, knocking her out with that one punch and then dragging her out of the elevator like a f'n caveman caricature. I have not watched it, I won't watch it. I've seen two stills that was more than enough.
A Ravens spokesman and the NFL said they didn't know about the existence of this second video until Monday, when we all saw it. Here's the rub. ESPN radio had reported the details of that second video in July. I find it pretty hard to believe that someone in the NFL doesn't pay attention to what ESPN is reporting, but that's just me. If that's true, it would follow that the NFL and by extension The Ravens organization either:
Knew about the video and chose to ignore it. Therefore, hoping to put off or extinguish any legal/financial ramifications or embarrassment to the league or,
They didn't mount a good or thorough enough investigation into the event, and they really were surprised on Monday.
In either case, it's a complete breakdown. Administratively and ethically. But now that that the video is public, the league chooses to act. NOW they acknowledge the two game suspension was erroneous. NOW the NFL suspends Rice indefinitely. NOW the Ravens fire him from the team. Why now? Because NOW it is financially expedient. NOW it really is an embarrassment.
The fact that she apologized for him hitting her shows just how treacherous the waters of domestic abuse are. Domestic violence is about control and power. Ray Rice needs some serious help and so does his wife. The league should be getting them that help. It should have stepped in immediately. Whether with therapy, counseling or restraining orders. The NFL needs to start taking care of it's own because their issues run deep (two other players were arrested for domestic battery since the league recently changed it's player code of conduct, and even though he's made a go of his second chance, I will say Mike Vick). It also needs to recognize the culture of violence, misogyny and lack of empathy it has fostered. Frank discussions about poverty, education and ethics should be had.
In addition, as consumers, as humans, it is our job to put our money where our mouths are...or not. By not giving our dollars to organizations that don't/won't act to do the right thing
Here is a link to a Rockland County center for the victims of domestic violence, The Center for Safety and Change. They do remarkable and honorable work to change people's lives for the better and help them get the resources they need to heal. Rather than spending your hard earned cash on a Super Bowl party, consider making a donation to them or to your local center.