The popular opinion around the mainstream sports media is that Ray Rice’s 2 game suspension is too lenient especially when you compare it to the year long drug drug related suspensions of LaVon Brazill, Daryl Washington, and the impending suspension for Josh Gordon.
It all started in an Atlantic City elevator where Ray and his then fiance (now wife) Janay got into a fight. We don’t know how it started, but video shows it ended with Janay knocked out cold. Upon looking at the court summons for both Ray and Janay here we see that Janay is also getting summoned for striking Ray. This shows that the assault went both ways. Ray Rice also had the charges dropped and went into anger management. He and his fiance then got married despite all of this.
Domestic violence is never okay, and there were many better ways Ray could have handled this, but we must consider his past and how his wife/fiance responded to this. Before this incident Ray Rice had a spotless record and was known for being very charitable, participating in anti-bullying campaigns, handing out Thanksgiving turkeys, and the like. Another thing I find interesting is Janay’s reaction to all this. Usually if one got hit by a significant other and you knew you did nothing wrong you would probably leave the relationship and file charges. Janay instead took responsibility for her role in the altercation and not only continued her relationship with Ray but went through with the marriage. If she doesn’t think this is that big of a deal than why should we?
Now lets compare this the drug related suspensions of LaVon Brazill and the inevitable suspension of Josh Gordon. Unlike a one time domestic assault drug abuse is most likely a pattern. (If any these guys told you that they stopped smoking and the drug test happened a day after the slipped and smoked for the first time in however many months, would you believe them? Odds are, no.) All of these guys are getting suspended for their third, fourth or fifth offenses. I find it hard to have pity for a guy who not only breaks the rules but breaks the rules multiple times. Also keep in mind that Marijuana is illegal under federal law. Even if Marijuana was legal would you really want the players on your favorite team doing it? It certainly won’t help them athletically and most likely will hurt them. The inevitable Josh Gordon suspension should also take into account his DWI, it’s one thing if you do these drugs responsibly (if that’s possible) but it is another thing if you are endangering other people while doing it.
Note that if Ray Rice ever gets any sort of domestic dispute charge again he will lose his good character defense and he should get an indefinite suspension. But until that ever happens, it is perfectly plausible to defend leniency in the case of Ray Rice, and probably only Ray Rice.
If you have any counter points besides, “You support sexual violence, you scum,” you can tweet them @PSFBlog. I’d be happy to defend my position.
Thanks- Paul (Published July 25th 2014)
Update: The video of what happened in the elevator was released and I have a couple thoughts on it. When they first got on the elevator they seemed to have some kind of scuffle. Then Ray Rice took a couple steps backwards and Janay followed him with seemingly threatening intentions and then Rice slugged her in the face. This video takes away the defense that perhaps the floor did more damage than the punch. It was very clear that the punch had malicious intent. Now in response to this video the Ravens have terminated his contract and the league has suspended him indefinitely. My first thought goes out to the victim. Janay Palmer, I believe, feels guilty for her role in this incident as evidenced by her apologizing for her role in the press conference and her telling Goodell that Ray never hit her ever besides that incident. This suspension is a huge blow to her. For one the Rice family is losing a lot of money, while they almost certainly are not at a point where they can’t afford necessities there will likely be less luxuries at the Rice house. I also feel bad that Janay is nothing but a person who got punched in the face by a famous person. And her husband is viewed as a scumbag despite what she thinks. I also believe that as far as I know Ray Rice has done everything he was supposed to do after the incident. He settled the charge in court by going to an anger management classes and apologizing publicly. I feel that Ray Rice has handled the issue 4x better than the NFL but only Ray and Janay Rice gets the consequences. Here are some questions I want answered about the case.
1. Was Ray Rice fired and suspended because the full video came out or something else? For example did Ray Rice lie about what happened in the elevator the first time around? If so this suspension could be far more justifiable. If not why did it take this video to be released in order for a harsher penalty to occur?
2. How does Janay Rice feel about the suspension? My opinion that the punishment should rarely exceed what the victim wants holds true. If Janay feels that the issue is done and over with and doesn’t agree with the suspension then why did we increase the punishment? The answer is because they need to give the people of social media the feeling of moral superiority because no one bashing Ray Rice on twitter has ever had a really bad night that doesn’t reflect their character.
3. Does Janay Palmer know something we don’t know? Yes. There aren’t many women who would go through with a marriage after something like this happened. She knows Ray’s true character which is why we have heard nothing from the media among the lines of “Janay and Ray Rice on the Rocks.” And besides with today’s overly intrusive media we’d know if there was something bad going on.
4. Will the frenzy ever cease? Probably not for awhile. The media likes making a huge deal out of certain things especially if they involve corruption of people in charge. In all honesty Roger Goodell has prove to be a good commissioner. He helped increased player safety, helped reduced concussions on the field, helped prevent the lockout, negotiated the end of the Ref strike and continues to help make the NFL a fun and engaging product. Sadly some people just naturally hate people in corporate authority and won’t appreciate him until he is gone and some other commissioner comes to make things worse. I also dislike the thought process of: People say Ray Rice’s suspension isn’t fair, then the NFL gives hem what they want and more, then they say it didn’t happen soon enough and that the people forced their hands. I feel this does nothing but to make the people feel morally superior. Also where is the frenzy for Ray McDonald? The way the media has been covering this has been awful.
I’ll leave this blog post from The Nation here. Just a further reminder that this should be all about what’s best for Janay.
In conclusion my unpopular belief comes down to sympathy for Janay. I just don’t know how punishing Ray Rice more does anything but make a statement that Janay’s opinion doesn’t matter.
September 9th: Janay Rice wrote on her Instagram today:
I woke up this morning feeling like I had a horrible nightmare, feeling like I’m mourning the death of my closest friend. But to have to accept the fact that it’s reality is a nightmare in itself. No one knows the pain that the media & unwanted (opinions) from the public has caused my family. To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret everyday is a horrible thing. To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his ass off for all his life just to gain ratings is horrific.
THIS IS OUR LIFE! What don’t you all get. If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all happiness away, you’ve succeeded on so many levels. Just know we will continue to grow & show the world what real love is! Ravensnation we love you!
This just I believe confirms my position that the suspension and intense media coverage has done nothing but hurt the victim even more.