Don’t Forget About the Victim in the Rice Controversy

Updated Sep 14, 2014

The NFL started its season with its usual pomp and intriguing matchups. As fans we were glued to our televisions watching every play or at the stadium watching the games up close and personal.

Lost amid the glitz and the glamour was the fact that the NFL was operating under a cloud of domestic violence crimes. Two of its budding star performers, Ray Rice and Ray McDonald, were dealing with domestic violence issues. The situation involving 49ers player McDonald still is being reviewed, so at this point not much is known.

On the other hand, the controversy involving the Ravens’ Rice—who was serving a two-game suspension as the result of him knocking out his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer, in a dispute in an elevator and video that showed him in the aftermath as he tried to drag her body out into the hallway—has reached a crescendo.

On Monday, TMZ released a video segment that showed the actual Atlantic City incident inside the elevator with Rice striking Palmer in the face and her head hitting the hand rail as she fell to the floor.

The firestorm that the latest video ignited led the Baltimore Ravens to terminate Rice’s contract. The NFL also has now suspended Rice indefinitely from the league.

All of these sudden happenings raise some interesting questions and points of view.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who claims to have seen the latest video for the first time Monday, had been heavily criticized for the initial two-game suspension.

Many believe as I do that the NFL does not take domestic violence seriously. For example, the league will suspend a player for taking illegal substances for four games and yet suspend a player two games for hitting a woman. What is wrong with this picture?

In the wake of that criticism, the NFL has implemented a new policy on domestic violence at the end of last month stipulating that an offending player is suspended six games for the first offense and suspended indefinitely for the second offense.

To Goodell’s credit, he got it right the second time around. However, it should not have taken until recent weeks for the NFL to realize the seriousness of domestic violence.

Another question that has been raised is about the video. How in the name of a first down could TMZ get the video before the National Football League? As powerful as the NFL is I find it impossible to believe their top officials did not see it. Do they operate in a vacuum?

Many years ago, Tina Turner had a hit song entitled “What’s Love Got to Do with It.” There are a variety of answers to that question depending upon whom you ask.

Palmer married Rice days after he knocked her out. I don’t understand that move, and I never will.

I would have to believe that her family and friends told her to forgo the nuptials. She did not heed their advice.

Why? There are possibly a multitude of reasons such as she’s displaying the behavior of a victim of abuse, maybe she has low self-esteem or perhaps it was his earning power. There are also a couple other explanations.

It won’t happen again. Now, if you believe this is the first time this has happened, I will beg to differ with you. The difference between this time and the other times is that this time it was caught on camera.

We love each other. While that may be true at some level, love is not violent. There definitely are bumps in the road but love does not cause bodily damage today and then ask for forgiveness tomorrow.

Real men don’t hit women under any circumstances. The issue of domestic violence is such that we don’t want to talk about it. We all have family and friends who have been both the victims and the aggressors.

Counseling will help to change behaviors yet will that be enough?

What’s next for Ray and Janay Rice? His committing domestic violence has placed them both in a bad position. I hope they surround themselves with quality people. If they ever needed role models, they need them now.

I am worried about the state of Janay Palmer Rice, especially after her Instagram post Tuesday that laid the blame on the media for their predicament. She is truly the victim in all of this and will need some strong guidance. At this moment, she needs to focus on how to get better and not worry about the glare of the NFL.

I have often used the NFL moniker for “not for long.” Ray Rice may never play another down in the NFL but maybe through this series of events as brutal as they were his life may have been saved. And if he and his wife can be happy together, then the National Football League will become a distant memory because family comes before football.