Mondays are normally reserved for on the field action during the NFL season. This week, instead of storylines dominated by last second touchdowns and overtime wins, it was an off the field incident as TMZ Sports released additional security footage of Ravens running back Ray Rice striking his then fiancee Janay Palmer.
The new footage showed Rice follow Palmer into the elevator and strike her twice. The second blow was a left hook to the face with so much force that it knocked her into the metal handrail of the elevator ultimately knocking her unconscious.
In August NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell ruled to suspend Rice for two games based on the first security tape footage showing Rice carrying Palmer’s unconscious body out of the elevator.
Public opinion at the time was that Goodell was way too lenient on Rice. Everyone questioned whether Goodell or any NFL officials had viewed the gruesome elevator footage showing the incidents leading up to Rice carrying Palmer out of the elevator.
The latest video prompted Roger Goodell to re-assess the penalty he handed down last month.
Reacting immediately to the video leaked Monday and public outcry, the commissioner ruled that Rice is now suspended indefinitely.
In Goodell’s first interview since the video surfaced, CBS Sports asked if this would effectively end Rice’s NFL career.
“I don’t rule that out. But he would have to make sure that we are fully confident that he is addressing this issue. Clearly, he has to pay a price for the actions that he’s already taken,” he said.
In the months prior, the Ravens franchise showed nothing but support for Rice. In August they held a press conference with General Manager Ozzie Newsome and Head Coach Jon Harbaugh proclaiming their support for their all-pro running back.
The Ravens public relations team even released an official statement on their website that ended up sounding like an homage to Rice. The official statement has since been removed from the website.
Monday Ravens head coach, Jon Harbaugh announced in a press conference that Rice had been released by the Baltimore Ravens, effective immediately.
By all accounts, two games was a huge break for Rice, given the details available even before the second video surfaced. It was obvious that this was a case of domestic assault.
The more troubling question, did Goodell see the second video before he handed down the two game suspension?
To further complicate things, the AP reported a police official in New Jersey had come forward and said that he sent the NFL the second video tape in April.
In the CBS interview, Goodell claimed that he, nor any NFL officials had ever seen the tape until Monday, when it was leaked to the public.
“We had not seen any video tape of what occurred in the elevator. We assumed that there was a video, we asked for the video, we asked for anything that was pertinent, but we were never granted that opportunity,” he said.
At this point Goodell’s job is on the line. It is despicable how the commissioner has handled the situation. Especially coming from a man with the reputation of being stern with policy violators.
Just this month Goodell suspended a player, Josh Gordon for the entire 2014 season. Gordon’s crime, testing positive for marijuana. Which some players are now choosing as their preferred pain reliever instead of harsh and addictive pharmaceuticals like Vicodin, but that is a whole other argument.
For Goodell to suspend Gordon for a year, for doing something that is legal in 13 states and suspend Rice for only two games for doing what he knew was a brutal act of domestic violence, doesn’t make sense.
They say, power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Goodell is the commissioner of one of the most recession proof, lucrative, and powerful positions. The power that he wields is tremendous, but it seems to have corrupted his moral compass. His willingness to lie about seeing the video is an attempt to cover up the fact that he was originally covering up what he thought would have been a serious black eye for the leagues reputation. Goodell is now trapped in his own web of cover-up and deceit.
It is unfortunate that across the board nobody is talking about the damage that all of this is doing to Palmer. The then fiancee, now wife of her abuser is forced to relive the events of that night over and over again, as this story just continues to re-tread.
In addition, now Palmer’s husband, Rice has his livelihood taken away from him indefinitely, not knowing if he will ever play professional football again. Again, Palmer is the victim. She has lost her accustomed way of life and her family’s financial future is filled with uncertainty. It will be a long time before any team even thinks about signing Rice. Even if they wanted to the NFL would have to reinstate him. Indefinitely, is never the sentence a football player wants to hear.
The only silver lining in this story, is that the Rice has now forced the NFL to take a long hard look at their domestic violence policy. To the NFL and Goodell’s credit, they have already changed their policy. First time offenders will receive a six game suspension, and second time offenders will be banned for life.
For Rice and Palmer, they have a long road ahead of them. Hopefully Rice has learned from his mistake and never makes it again. However, It will be difficult to see any NFL team signing him anytime soon.