First, let’s start with the obvious. Our society has changed. Domestic abuse used to be something that we would “keep in the home.” If you went to tell the police, they weren’t interested. If you told your pastor, he would tell you to pray more and love your husband more. Now, that’s all changed. Domestic abuse/domestic violence needs to stop and it needs to stop now.
If you are a football fan, you know Ray Rice. You have seen him on the field. He is short, stocky and powerful. You’ve seen him run over 250-pound linebackers. You’ve seen him stiff arm a 200-pound cornerback into the ground. He is listed at 5’8″ tall and he weighs 208 pounds. He is all muscle. This is the man who we see in this new video pounding his fiancée into unconsciousness. There is no excuse. There’s no apology that is adequate. And, in my mind, there is no punishment that will make up for beating another human being senseless.
Let’s be honest. The NFL does not really care about Ray Rice or even his fiancée. I wish they did, but they do not. The NFL is a multibillion-dollar business. They care about their public relations and their image. It’s okay to sell a violent product to the public. We expect football to be violent on the field. It’s not okay for that violence to creep into the public eye off the field. That hurts revenue. The NFL understood almost immediately when they suspended Ray Rice for two games, for beating the crap out of his fiancée, that the punishment was inadequate. They instigated a huge PR campaign to smooth things over with the public. There are thousands of women who follow the NFL. They don’t want to lose that audience. A new policy was announced which “reflected the values of the NFL.” This new policy was a zero tolerance policy. For the first offense the NFL player would be suspended for six games. For the second offense the NFL player would be banished from the NFL. Finally, a real policy.
It would be nice if this was the end of the story. Unfortunately it is not. A video surfaced today which revealed Ray Rice beating the snot out of his then fiancée, now wife. The previous video, which almost everyone has seen by now, surfaced months ago showing Ray Rice dragging his unconscious fiancée by her hair as if we were watching an R-rated episode of the Flintstones. The anger, the brutality of this new video is shocking. This is a side of human beings we don’t see much in our “civilized” society. It is ugly. Once this new video surfaced, the NFL moved quickly to indefinitely suspend Ray Rice. But, here’s the question. Did the NFL know of this “secret” video? Currently the NFL is standing by their story that they knew nothing of this new, raw, brutal video. Here’s another question. What’s the difference? We knew that Ray Rice had beaten his fiancée into unconsciousness. We saw him drag her by her hair. Does he really deserve a harsher penalty because now we can actually see him knock her out? In my mind, he deserves a harsher penalty because of his actions. In a civilized society, we truly cannot tolerate domestic violence. It must be eliminated. Even if you’re an NFL football star.
Now, I don’t want anyone to think that I’m picking on Ray Rice. I’m not. He isn’t the only NFL player in trouble for domestic violence. Ray McDonald just got arrested a couple of days ago for the same thing. (No video has surfaced yet.) I have been following the NFL since the late 1960s. There has always been an undercurrent of domestic violence. I guess one of the big questions is whether you play a game as violent as football and be peaceful at home.
Update:TCB points out that I may have overplayed my argument by suggesting that NFL players could be more violent than the American population. 538 has a nice article on this subject. The data that they compiled suggests that NFL players are not more violent than the average population. This in no way, however, changes my argument that Ray Rice should be thrown out of the NFL.