It took a video. Naturally. Because no one believes women are abused by men. One wonders if some believe it even now…after all, that didn’t look like much of a punch, did it? And the victim herself now says that she’s forgiven her man that they’re going forward and the real villains here are the media and the commentators making all this fuss about what should be a private matter.
There have been far too many private matters for the NFL.
When Ray Rice punched his then-fiancée, he was simply following a pattern long established in the league. And, essentially, the league dismissed it, suspending Rice for only two games…while giving serial pot smokers full season bans. The NFL, like most of America, doesn’t believe in spousal abuse but drug abuse…that’s BAAAAAD! And the NFL was totally shocked at the cries of outrage their feeble action provoked. The even changed the penalty for a first offense from a paltry two games to a slightly less paltry six games. And Ray Rice would have been back on the field next Sunday regardless.
Then came the videotape. And all of America could actually see what domestic violence looks like…a woman knocked cold in an elevator. A man dragging her unconscious body out of the elevator into the hotel lobby as if she were a bag of garbage, not bothering to see if she was still alive, much less render her any aid. Treating her as if she were nothing to him, certainly not the human being he wanted to spend his life with.
That was the end of Ray Rice. His team, the Baltimore Ravens, cut him. The NFL…at long last…suspended him indefinitely. His career is effectively over…even if he does eventually come back to the league, he’s damaged goods and few teams will want to take a chance on him. And that’s too bad. Because this isn’t all his fault.
And perhaps it’s not just the NFL’s fault. Perhaps it’s football itself. One calls to mind that, in the mid-90’s, the University of Nebraska’s star running back, Lawrence Phillips, was arrested for beating up his girlfriend. Though initially suspended, he was quickly reinstated and led Nebraska to yet another national title. (Mr. Phillips currently resides in a California prison, serving 31 years for assault.) And he is not alone. Hundreds of NFL players have been arrested for violent offenses in the last decade. Add in college players and the number is likely in the thousands.
Or maybe it’s not just football. Maybe it’s the entire athletic culture that so dominates American society. Young athletes are coddled and protected at every turn. They are given a pass through high school and college, poor academic performance excused because of superior performance on the field or diamond or court. They are taught, ultimately, that none of the rules apply to them and, no matter what they do, whatever acts of violence they commit, they will be excused and we will still come out to cheer them when they score the winning touchdown.
Ray Rice didn’t do that. We did.