Rice faces severe backlash seven months later

Pat Higgins | Sports Editor

On Monday morning, the popular gossip news source TMZ released the video from an Atlantic City hotel elevator in which former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punched his fiancée, Janay Palmer, in the face twice and knocked her unconscious in the early morning of Feb. 15.

About an hour later, the organization released a 12-word statement on their Twitter account: “The #Ravens have terminated RB Ray Rice’s contract this afternoon.”

The move was a reactionary one, and both the Ravens and Commissioner Roger Goodell left a number of questions unanswered in their investigation into the matter and the subsequent two-game suspension handed down to Rice on July 24. Goodell told Nora O’Donnell of CBS News on Tuesday night that no one in the NFL, “to my knowledge,” saw the video from inside the elevator.

“I don’t know how TMZ or any other website gets their information,” he said. “We are particularly reliant on law enforcement. That’s the most reliable [source] that [is] credible.”

Later in the interview, Goodell acknowledged for a second time in as many weeks that he “didn’t get the suspension right.”

Ray Rice deserves everything coming his way at the moment, and there’s no reason to pity him two days after he was fired from the NFL. What’s particularly wrong with the way the video went viral has nothing to do with the former Ravens running back and everything to do with his wife.

The way Janay was treated on that morning in February is simply inexcusable. The way the Ravens and the NFL handled the situation is equally unjustifiable.

To force Janay to relive that moment over and over again on national television has caused an unnecessary amount of grief to a woman who was already a victim of simple assault, not by way of a stranger, but by way of the man she now calls her husband.

Nearly seven months after the actual incident, it’s reasonable to assume Janay has at least begun to forgive Rice for what he did. But the way the video circulated around the Internet on Monday is an assault on the privacy of a woman who has already dealt with a whirlwind of issues in the past seven months. She posted on her Instagram account Monday that she woke up “feeling like I had a horrible nightmare, feeling like I’m mourning the death of my closest friend.

“No one knows the pain that the media & unwanted [opinions] from the public has caused my family,” she continued.

As for those who believe Commissioner Roger Goodell should lose his job: realize the man made a mistake and admitted it publicly. Let the public discourse regarding the issue of domestic violence both in the NFL and general society take its course. It’s a disturbing and violent crime that often gets swept under the rug.

On Aug. 28, the league announced a new, much harsher policy to police domestic violence under which first-time offenders receive a six-game suspension, and second-time offenders are banned from the league for life.

“My disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment, and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families,” Goodell wrote in a letter released on the same day. “I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I didn’t get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will.”

Time will tell whether Goodell is truly committed to protecting women against domestic abuse. 49ers defensive tackle Ray McDonald was arrested early Sunday morning on suspicion of domestic violence. In due time after the legal system processes the incident, he will have the power to uphold the values to which he committed both himself and the league.

Until then, let the Commissioner do his job, which also includes finding a way to combat the long-term effects of concussions to the thousands of players who have suited up every Sunday for the last 70 years.