Today, the day after Thanksgiving, the truth is confirmed. A judge overturned the punishment handed down to former Baltimore Ravens’ running back Ray Rice. Her decree claimed that Rice had never deceived the NFL about what happened in that elevator in Atlantic City. Commissioner Roger Goodell knew the truth from day one when he handed down a two-game suspension which he later upgraded to a lifetime suspension after the second surveillance tape was revealed. Roger Goodell must resign, and Ravens’ owner Steve Bisciotti must be sanctioned for his denial of an extreme issue of domestic violence.
Of course it is doubtful that anything will change for either man; Goodell is a multi-millionaire, and Bisciotti is a billionaire. Somehow individuals with that much money never suffer the consequences.
Ray Rice is now able to sign and play with an NFL team. The victim, Janay, is now married to the former running back. She was engaged at the time she was punched in an elevator by her future husband and rendered unconscious. The visual account displays the cowardly and vicious attack by a professional football player on a defenseless woman. Goodell and Bisciotti continue to claim that they did not know what had actually happened until the second surveillance tape surfaced. This is where Judge Barbara S. Jones disagreed. She confirmed statements by Rice that he had divulged the details at his first meeting with Commissioner Goodell.
The question many columnists and women’s rights groups have asked for months is if the second tape had never been seen, what did Goodell think happened in that elevator when he witnessed Janay’s unconscious body being dragged from the casino elevator?
For decades the NFL has concealed multiple cases of domestic violence and sexual assault. Secrecy was necessary to protect the league’s image, but a far greater concern was to protect the players and owners. Teams could not afford to have their best players undergo legal action and possible suspension. It’s always a case of ‘follow the money.’
Goodell’s evasive action has placed the NFL in the public eye; and not for a good reason. Besides exposing the league’s lack of concern for acts of domestic violence, he has very likely ruined the career of a man and the economic future of his wife.
This is in no way intended to be a defense of Ray Rice. No thinking individual can condone any portion of his criminal attack on his fiancé. However, improper handling and punishment as well as a purposeful lack of concern for an act of domestic violence has placed Rice’s entire career in jeopardy.
With no excuses given to Ray Rice, his wife, Janay, is now telling her side of the story. She tells a tale of a botched Valentine’s Day trip which erupted into a virtually constant disagreement. She had planned the trip for just the two of them, but Ray invited two other couples. Throughout the evening they argued about things she can’t remember to this day; they had been drinking heavily. Before they entered the elevator Janay remembers slapping Ray. When they were in the elevator she recalls hitting him one more time. All memory after that is void.
In no way does this validate the action of Ray Rice. The real issue here is the flawed priorities of the NFL and particularly the owners and the Commissioner.
On the field players are constantly fined for circumstances which are deemed ‘excessive violence.’ Some are valid, but some are beyond the understanding of fans and sports writers. The problem is that Goodell is a dictator. His decisions are rarely reversed. When a domestic violence or sexual assault issue comes to his attention he appears not to be concerned, or at least have in place a policy in place to effectively address each situation individually.
Because Goodell and Ravens’ owner Bisciotti lied from the beginning, something must be done to punish them. Goodell should resign for the image of the NFL. Rice, Peterson, and others have been severely punished, but they should not stand alone in shame and a lack of respect.
By James Turnage