If you had asked me Sept. 8, 2013 who I thought were the top five Ravens least likely to be in trouble with the law in any sort of capacity, Ray Rice would have most likely been on that list.
His long list of community service and local involvement, specifically in my hometown community, on an anti-bullying platform established him as one of the more respected and admired Ravens players in the eyes of fans.
If the initial report and fallout following his reported arrest and court proceedings for a domestic violence incident with his then-fiancée in February in Atlantic City, N.J. did not change his status in the eyes of fans, all perceptions have surely gone sour following the release of the video of the alarming altercation itself.
TMZ released the video in the early hours of Sept. 8, 2014, and in today’s social media age, the negative, disgusted public reaction spread like wildfire.
Many questions amid this outrage have been asked with very few answers being provided.
First of all, who knew what? If an outlet like TMZ can obtain these supposedly concealed videos from the court system or casino, how could the NFL, a multi-billion dollar establishment, not have had the means to obtain the evidence as well?
If, in fact, the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell did have access to the footage, how did a two-game suspension seem to appropriately fit the crime?
In listening to ESPN Insider Adam Schefter analyze the situation as the details emerged, he eloquently described the conundrum the NFL is in as either a flawed investigation, or an effort to hide the truth. Either way, this is and will continue to be a public relations disaster for Goodell.
On a smaller scale, did the Ravens organization, specifically, have access to any of the footage as the legal process and NFL suspension decisions were occurring?
Did they see the video evidence before it was released? If so, the public is absolutely correct to criticize them for standing by Rice publicly while fully knowing the manner and degree to which the violence occurred. Should the front office have seen the video and just assumed or hoped it would never publically surface, the decision to wait to cut Rice Monday when public rage mounted is absolutely deplorable.
On the other hand, had the organization not viewed the tapes before Monday morning, what did Rice tell them in meetings and conversations behind closed doors that made them believe that the incident was of a lesser magnitude that it was?
Though Rice’s contract was terminated hours after the video went public, he should have been cut as soon as the organization obtained video footage if, in fact, they access the evidence.
In his regularly scheduled media time on Monday night, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh did not directly comment on his knowledge of the access to the video. He stated that he had not previously seen it, but does the same go for the rest of the Ravens executives or other NFL officials?
Was the decision to cut Rice and suspend him indefinitely a move in connection to seeing the footage for the first time, or was it a reaction to the public outcry?
Not only is the public entitled to answers, but Rice’s teammates are as well. Many of them publically supported him, most notably during his press conference during training camp, his second time speaking to the media following the incident, and the first time answering questions on the subject.
Respected Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith made a concerted effort to gather his teammates to attend the press conference to show a united front for Rice and his wife. Had the Ravens players seen the footage themselves, it’s unlikely their reaction and public support for Rice as a teammate would have been the same.
The violence lasted only a couple minutes that Feb. 15 night, but the journalistic and social media firestorm has just begun and shows no signs of relenting any time soon.
The image of the NFL disciplinary and legal system is tainted with the cloud of uncertainty surrounding their supposed in-depth investigation that resulted in a light punishment for a heinous crime.
The image of the Baltimore Ravens franchise is tainted with their lack of transparency surrounding their support and knowledge about one of their cornerstone players.
Most notably, however, the image of Ray Rice, as a football player and as a man, is forever ruined. He may have been a model, upstanding citizen in the Baltimore community prior to that February night, but his poor decision making and lack of awareness and self-control cost him his job, his sponsors, his personal privacy, and, above all, his livelihood.
Latest posts by Callie Caplan (see all)
- NFL schedule release has fans asking, ‘is it the season yet?’ - April 23, 2015
- Early NFL retirements raise questions - June 13, 2015
- Baltimore Ravens – Preseason Storylines - June 26, 2015