Ray Rice Incident: A Tangled Web Indeed


A story is officially noteworthy when it is not limited to one particular news outlet….the Ray Rice saga has more than met this criteria. While we’d expect it to dominate the sports talk shows, the story is literally everywhere…local evening news, national evening news, morning talk shows and political networks are reporting incessantly at every turn in this twisted tale. 

Since the release of the scene which details what occurred before the previously released video of Rice dragging an unconscious Janay Parker from the elevator, I have grown increasingly frustrated by the dialogue!  Once we sort through what is being discussed, it all amounts to one thing, public relations…in this case, of the nightmare variety, the NFL—in particular Commissioner Roger Goodell—has managed to create. 

Without a doubt, the league and all who played a role are deserving of the speculation…

From the beginning I had no qualms with a two game suspension.  That being said, I would have been satisfied with whatever the NFL decided…from a two game to an indefinite suspension….the FIRST time punishment was determined.  However, the whole idea of one followed by the other was asinine at best.  So essentially the league, Commissioner and Ravens essentially coughed up a mulligan…on something as serious as domestic violence…only AFTER the elevator scene video was made public. 

One would have to be equal parts fool and leprechaun to believe the NFL had no knowledge of a video existing.   Wait a minute, a powerful and well connected organization was not able to obtain footage….but a group of ragtag guys and gals (calling them journalists is quite the reach) who’ve made careers off of catching celebrities dropping scoops of ice cream on posh sidewalks on the French Rivera and scrambling to make it newsworthy….can have this video miraculously fall in their laps?  In the words of Seattle Seahawk Richard Sherman, ”this is a joke right?”

More important than access to the video is the need to even see it–period.  The end result…the one of the young lady being dragged like a sack of potatoes…was more than enough!  What in the world did the powers that be think had taken place…an accident?  Most definitely not…had Rice not been culpable, it would stand to reason, that he would have been calling for help via cell phone and at the top of his lungs to whomever was within earshot for assistance with his fiancé.  We didn’t’ have to see R&B singer Chris Brown attacking pop star Rihanna—we saw her…end.of.story!!

My frustration is due to the fact that we’ve yet to discuss the core of the story—domestic violence!  While we don’t know if the Rice ordeal was a pattern of behavior or an isolated incident, we do know that domestic violence exists in the lives of far too many women and men. 

I can’t help but believe the league would have been using its visibility for good had it seized the moment to address the issue itself.  A series of Public Service Announcements…perhaps with Rice leading the way….speaking to the abused and abusers…offered in rotation throughout Thursday night, Sunday, Sunday night, and Monday night games would be powerful!!   

Last week, football fans welcomed the first week of the season with eager arms….how many women were abused when their significant other’s team lost?  When disappointment on a fantasy player’s performance ruled the household?  When his favorite Ravens player was released Monday afternoon?

On the subject of Rice’s release:  One thing that ceases to amaze me in this celebrity obsessed culture we live in…is how those of us non-celebrity folks somehow hold those in visible positions to a different standard…a totally different light than the rest of us.  I’ve had acquaintances denounce the infidelity of one politician after the other but those same people will regularly associate with married friends who partake in the extracurricular activities that land someone more visible on the evening news!  If such an act would lead someone to declare they’d never vote for a particular official…. then why oh why wouldn’t they decline the next “out on the town” invitation from their adulterous friend?

I will not argue the social responsibility aspect for those persons & organizations with elevated platforms.  However, why aren’t people up in arms about each and every man who forcefully puts his hands on a woman?  What is the domestic violence policy at your job?  Taking the stance of immediately firing someone should not be limited to the rich & famous…be prepared to lose your dentist…or your colleague…or to see a different carrier on your neighborhood mail route.  It is widely known the occupation with a high rate of domestic violence is that of police officer.  And these are persons sworn to protect and serve…who happen to have a badge and a gun, and far too often, a code of silence amongst brethren that makes the NFL debacle look like a toddler’s tea party! 

This is a classic case of not seeing the forest for the trees.  The national dialogue should address the serious matter at hand….not the league’s PR misstep.  The issues involved….safe havens for the abused, treatment for the abusers & various means of assistance for everyone impacted by the toxic environment….are not as simplistic as polls asking whether or not the commissioner should resign…and they should be treated as such—now!


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