Monday, September 8, 2014

Ray Rice Released, Suspended Indefinitely

Today, September 8, 2014, the entire world was rocked by TMZ's release of camera footage from within the elevator of the Ray Rice domestic violence incident.

The video can be seen after the jump.
The video is extremely disturbing, and graphic.

The video begins with Rice's then-fiancée Janay (then-Palmer) walking up to and past Rice, who spits on her. Palmer flings her hand up and makes contact with Rice's face, who then spits again and she walks towards and into the elevator. Rice follows quickly behind while a bystander walks past the elevator. 

Inside the elevator, Rice stands waiting for the woman to pass the elevator, and after she is out of sight, Rice hits Palmer in the face. Palmer begins stepping towards Rice who then swings again, hitting her in the jaw. Palmer falls to the side and hits her face on the wall and railing of the elevator on her way down, and lays unconscious on the floor of the elevator at the feet of Rice. Rice shows no immediate signs of regret or concern for the well-being of Palmer, as he stands over her body the rest of the trip down the elevator. 

The door opens, and Rice attempts to lift Palmer, but the door closes and Rice sets her back down. He lifts her up as the elevator goes down more floors, opening to a lobby to reveal they were in fact at the wrong floor before. Rice drags Palmer's limp body by the underarms, her lower legs dragging along the floor, and Rice drops her from about a foot off of the ground down onto her face. Rice steps back into the elevator to grab Palmer's shoe and kicks her leg in a careless attempt to "wake" Palmer. Rice attempts to lift Palmer, when an employee walks up to check on the couple and hold the door open.

Rice then sits Palmer up at the corner of the doorway, letting her slump back over before she begins to stir. Rice then paces and stands around, presumably while talking to the employee. Palmer is clearly dazed as she tries to grab for her belongings in front of her and the employee can be seen on a walkie-talkie contacting others. Rice then has his hands out, palms up, questioning the employee. Palmer is still on the floor.

Another man walks into the picture and then another. Rice reaches down and grabs Palmer's shoe as he slides her leg back towards her body. Two more people walk by. One of them stops, kneels beside Palmer, and wraps an arm around her to rub her shoulder. Palmer is visibly crying before being helped to her feet. Rice reaches over to grab Palmer's hand, but she slaps his hand away. Rice looks as though he is trying to explain something to the crowd gathered around the elevator.

The video prompted immediate reactions from social media. Twitter erupted with conversation, spreading the video like wildfire. People were furious over the fact that Ray Rice received only two games of suspension for his brutal assault of his now-wife. Fans, analysts, reporters, and other players in the NFL asked for the immediate reconsideration of Rice's punishment and questioned the man and the NFL.

It did not take long for action to be taken. A few hours after the video was released and the backlash hit the entire world, the Baltimore Ravens announced the release of Ray Rice from their football team. Soon after, the National Football League announced an indefinite suspension of Rice, acknowledging the Ravens' decision to release, the NFL all-but-promised that they would not recognize any organization's attempt to sign the free agent off of the market. The Canadian Football League issued an abrupt response saying they would acknowledge and honor the NFL's suspension of Rice, and would also not allow any team to sign the free agent.

Rice was suspended for 2 games by the NFL after a review of the situation several months ago. Just a couple weeks ago, Roger Goodell sent out a memo to all 32 NFL teams saying he "recently got it wrong" without directly naming Ray Rice, but the implication was obvious. Goodell and the NFL promptly changed the rules to a mandatory 6-game suspension for any employee of the League found guilty of domestic violence. Any repeat offender would then face a lifetime ban from the NFL with no reconsidering.

With the video now available, questions have been raised. Rice, before he was initially suspended for 2 games, told the world that he believed the NFL had all evidence available in his situation. The NFL today issued a statement saying today, along with the rest of the world, was the first they had seen of the video shot inside of the elevator. It was also reported today that the NFL had requested video from inside the elevator but that law enforcement officials declined to hand over the tape. The Ravens suggest Rice's story did not match with the evidence shown on tape today, and therefore have released the All-Pro running back from their roster. People now wonder if Goodell had indeed seen the video, and if that is what prompted him to change the punishment for domestic violence.

For certain, even if it was late, the NFL eventually got it right. The problem, for many, is that the NFL should have gotten it right long before the tape was released if the tape was available to and seen before today.

Ray Rice was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens at #55 overall in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft. Rice is a 3x Pro Bowl selection, 2x All Pro, and Super Bowl XLVII champion.