On May 23, 2014, Ray Rice spoke for the first time since being arrested after a fight occurred with his now-wife Janay Palmer in Atlantic City in February of that year. Rice apologized for “the situation my wife and I were in” and promised he is “working every day to be a father, a better husband and a better role model.”
“I failed miserably,” Rice said. “But I wouldn’t call myself a failure cause I’m working myself back up.”
Janay Rice also apologized for her “role in that night”, though the assault charges against her were ultimately dropped. Footage from that night showed Rice dragging his wife’s unconscious body from an elevator.
Rice was released by the Ravens and indefinitely suspended by the NFL on Sept. 8 of last year. Rice was ordered to serve his suspension in full, and complete therapy and training in domestic abuse education groups in order to be reinstated, which he has completed successfully.
In May of this year, John Clayton of ESPN listed teams that could possibly pursue Rice now that he is eligible to play. The list included the Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots, and the Indianapolis Colts. On July 24, Ed Werder of ESPN reported that Rice and a group of supporters, including former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano, have been initiating contact with various NFL teams in an attempt to get the passed-over player into training camp.
Though the assault is certainly a tremendous factor in his struggle to be signed, he’s also seen as declining player at a position built for a young player. Rice’s rushing yards, average per carry, and touchdown totals declined in each of this final three years with the Ravens.
Rice is certainly not the only player to involve himself in a violent crime. Adrian Peterson physically abused his son, and Greg Hardy physically assaulted a woman after a night of drinking; threatening to kill her. Peterson received a restructured contract with the Minnesota Vikings that includes millions in new guaranteed money, and Hardy signed with the Dallas Cowboys even before his suspension was reduced two weeks ago from 10 games to four.
As a female sports journalist, I was asked by BoneheadPicks to give my opinions and thoughts on Ray Rice and the NFL’s handling of violent crimes. I’d like to start by saying I absolutely do not condone violence in any form. I’ll start by stating the facts on domestic violence, so we can address the situation as a whole.
According to safehorizon.org:
-One in four women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime.
-Three million men also experience physical assaults in the USA.
-60 percent of domestic violence occurrences happen at home.
-Domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness among families.
-One in three female homicide victims are murdered by their current or former partner.
It’s clear that domestic violence is a scary epidemic. The facts are astonishing, and I encourage every reader to research the statistics for themselves, in order to get a clear view of the dangers. If you or a loved one is experiencing violence in any shape or form, please reach out for help. You don’t have to live in fear or shame, any violence against you is not your fault, there’s no excuse. Visit Cadvny.org for a list of resources for victims.
I’m not an expert on domestic violence, violent crimes, law or NFL guidelines. I’m not an advocate or member of any specific anti-violence group. However, in my opinion, it doesn’t take a genius to see that violence simply can not be tolerated, especially in a public arena. These football players are role models. Children and adults alike aspire to their greatness, and learn from their experiences. What are we teaching our country by allowing violent criminals the privilege of playing in a professional sport, making millions of dollars a year?
It’s widely believed that the NFL is loose on their punishments for players. Sure, the players have served jail time, paid fines, and participated in therapy, but what are we teaching other players when we allow them to come back after a measly served suspension? Forget that I am a woman, as a human being and sports fan, I’m appalled and embarrassed by their actions. These men are built to physical strengths beyond the normal human. To turn that strength to a person or child of weaker build is simply disgusting. There’s no excuse. I’ll say it a million times. A time for each dollar they earn when their suspension is released.
Admittedly, Rice and other players have a hard time “getting back in the game”. Personally, I think they should. There should be no reward for a prosecuted criminal. An everyday citizen hits his wife, and it is featured on the local news. Do you think that person’s job is going to willingly except them back to work? Likely not. What makes a pro-athlete any different? They should be held to the same standards as all citizens, that’s the definition of justice and equality.
A Call To Men, an organization that encourages men to end violence against women, has spoken out on behalf of Ray Rice, stating that he deserves another chance.
“He’s held himself accountable,” founder Ted Bunch said. “He is saying everything that you would want him to say and doing everything that you would want him to do. So why wouldn’t he deserve another chance? His work in the area of educating young men is more important than him getting back on the field. He knows that and has said that to us. He is seeing the bigger picture. He has a desire to compete again, but also to make a difference in the world. This is what mistakes should be about: learning from them and teaching others. We’ve been in front of a lot of batterers. He is as transparent as I’ve seen, and as sincere as I’ve seen.”
He is saying everything that you would want him to say, and doing everything that you would want him to do. Interesting. Agreed that everyone deserves a second chance to rebuild themselves, but I don’t think allowing him to reinstate his job in the NFL is necessary in that rebuilding. Allow him to be an advocate. Allow him to speak out against violence. Allow him to coach young players in avoiding the danger. But allow him to play? No, sir. I’d love to hear opinions from women’s anti-violence groups. I’m sure there would be some slight differences.
I’m not sharing my opinion as a woman, I’m sharing it as a human being. Violence is never acceptable, and anyone who commits such acts should have to face the same consequences. Those in the public eye, who serve as role models, who get paid a ridiculous amount of money at their position, should be held to a higher standard when dishing out punishment. This doesn’t just apply to NFL players, this applies to any athlete, politician, actor, musician, or other public figure; male or female.
The violence epidemic in the NFL is appalling. Despite the male analysts who want Rice back in the game, I think it’s time he sits this one out. Please, Goodell, let’s learn from our mistakes.
(Photo courtesy of CBS Sports)