On Ray Rice, what were they thinking?

08/09/2014 § Leave a comment

It’s the question I thought this morning.

How did the Ravens or the NFL think they could get away with this. Ray Rice is the issue – but he’s also not really.

The bigger issue is that the league thought they could simply shove this under the rug. It was a PR problem. It wasn’t a human problem or a legal problem.

Ray Rice knocked his fiancee out because they were arguing. Ray Rice is a women-beater. Roger Goodell and the Atlantic City DA and the management of the Ravens thought that was something to hide – and that it could be hidden.

To quote Keith Olbermann, “Roger Goodell is an enabler of men who beat women.”

Ray Rice would just get back on the field, be a key player for the Baltimore football campaign.

Ray Rice just made a mistake and he wouldn’t do it again. Ray Rice was the victim of himself. He lost control. His wife provoked him. And so and so and so and so…

But we all knew already that the NFL doesn’t care about all that. It presents a golden ticket to young men across America, whether they come from good backgrounds or not, and sells a modern gladiatorial spectacle. We love it. Where the fans or the players come from doesn’t matter and aren’t due anything.

Sport is all. That’s it.

There was no need to speak out against the ills of American society. Of a disease called domestic violence. It’s easier to say ‘well, it’s a problem of the poor, we’re just a football league, we don’t do stuff like that.’

Except, it’s not true. Domestic violence happens everywhere, to rich and poor, to black and white. The NFL took a position that was the opposite of leadership. They and the team said, well, basically nothing.

We’d forget Ray Rice. We’d get back to cheering. Who cares what’s in the video.

The brand would survive.

Olberman gave a rant for the ages tonight on his ESPN show. His speech is powerful. It’s considered. And it pulls no punches. He points at everyone, the league, the team’s management and coaches, the Atlantic City authorities, even us, the fans, for abetting this coverup. The powers that be knew of the video – it’s almost as horrifying to think the alternative, that they were too incompetent to find it – and yet didn’t see anything of importance. A slap of the wrist suspension, a ridiculous press conference that was an elaborate session of victim blaming and, apparently, no need for legal action was the outcome.

Ray Rice is now on the outs, not because of what he did, but because the horrifying video made it into the public eye.

It shouldn’t have taken this. And yet here we are.

Did they really think the video wouldn’t get out, sometime. Did Roger Goodell and his crew really think that someone wouldn’t be outraged and wouldn’t find a way to share it? If this video had landed on my desk, you can count on me putting it out. (Last week, we did something similar at The Province.)

So, again, what were they thinking?

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