When Talking Ray Rice, Point the Finger (Almost) Everywhere

By Shivkumar Bhadola | 09/09/2014
Baltimore Ravens Training Camp August 22, 2009

By now, we’ve all seen the video of Ray Rice striking Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City casino elevator on February 15. We know that the National Football League’s highly criticized decision of handing down a two-game suspension took months to make. All of us have felt some kind of emotion towards this public saga. However, not many of us know where to direct the blame for this mess.

Let’s start at the Atlantic County prosecutors. After being charged with felony aggravated assault, the prosecution allowed Rice to enter into a pretrial intervention program. He did qualify for this as a first-time offender, but the law states deliberate violence towards another allows the prosecution to prevent a defendant’s entry into such a program. Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain potentially gave Rice a way out of jail time. Our legal system failed victims of domestic abuse and the rest of society from the start. Now, the New Jersey State Senate is calling for a review of the process.

How about the Ravens organization? Ozzie Newsome, general manager of the Ravens, and Steve Bisciotti, majority owner, could have cut Ray Rice the moment news broke out of this domestic violence months ago. They chose to wait until public outrage peaked with the latest video released by TMZ. Newsome and Bisciotti could have levied a penalty on top of what the NFL did, but they chose inaction. Instead, they remained silent while John Harbaugh, the head coach, was left answering questions alone after Rice’s contract was terminated.

In addition to Newsome, all the NFL owners should be taking heat right now. NBA owners banded together when racism was evident in their circle, but NFL owners haven’t shown solidarity against domestic violence. Robert Kraft, arguably the most powerful NFL owner and the man who cut Aaron Hernandez immediately after news of his legal trouble broke out, voiced his support for Roger Goodell, while also stating Goodell had no knowledge of the elevator video.

Roger Goodell, who won’t lose his job because he works for the owners, doesn’t deserve as much backlash as he’s getting. He did either lie about being unaware of the video or he did not do enough research while taking months to come to a decision on Rice’s penalty (which is hard to believe seeing as teams hire private investigators to look into unproven draft prospects). Goodell made a mistake with his two-game suspension, but directing your frustration towards the commissioner won’t get him in the unemployment line.

Those who could lose their jobs include reporters. Peter King stated leagues officials were aware of the elevator video in July, and then backtracked when the video went public. He did hope for the truth to come out, but that seems difficult when those who give the people news are having trouble deciding what’s true.

Now we must look to ourselves. Yes, point the finger at yourself. The owners are choosing to keep Roger Goodell, someone who believed domestic violence calls for one-eighth of the punishment for smoking marijuana three times (see Josh Gordon), at the helm of the league, and you’re allowing them to do it. You, the football fan, will still ardently follow your fantasy team and watch games like it’s a religion. You’ll help increase revenues and popularity of the NFL. You look for release in football, and seeing Janay Palmer get beaten and dragged by Ray Rice isn’t enough to cease that desire. You won’t stop watching the games, and that’s looking the other way at this incident.

Lastly, don’t blame the victim. Some want to since she’s still supporting Rice, but there may be dozens of reasons for her actions that the public is not aware of. Domestic violence cases are never cut-and-dry. Remember that she’s the one who was abused, and she deserves support. If you want to vent your frustration somewhere, look at the Atlantic County prosecution, Baltimore Ravens and the rest of the NFL from the commissioner to other owners, and even yourself, but don’t point the finger at Janay Palmer.