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Ray Rice suspension: too little too late


As residents of Baltimore, we all know about Ray Rice’s recent misfortunes: namely, being fired from the Ravens and indefinitely suspended from the NFL after knocking his fiancé (now wife) unconscious in an elevator and dragging her limp body around a casino. Some fans are upset at the loss of our local running back, but in truth, the Ravens and NFL should have done more, sooner to punish the athlete.
In February, Rice and his then-fiancé Janay Palmer visited Atlantic City, N.J., and an argument turned violent inside of a Revel Casino elevator. Just as the elevator doors closed, the football player snapped and punched Palmer in the face, which sent her head flying into the glass wall and knocked her out cold. Rice then dragged her body part way out of the elevator, caught in the act as casino officials approached.
Before TMZ released video footage of this incident of domestic abuse—because this was a domestic abuse incident, after all—the NFL suspended Ray Rice for just two games and he was indicted for aggravated assault. The Ravens’ Senior Vice President of Public and Community Relations, Kevin Byrne, felt Rice was punished enough at that point. “Clearly Ray has been scrutinized,” he wrote on the Ravens’ website on July 25. “He has been reviewed in a court of law and in the court of public opinion. The NFL punished Rice with a two-game suspension and a third game check. He will lose 3/17 of his salary.”
The Ravens stood behind Rice, it seems, and supported him through a “bad incident” that they thought did not reflect his true character. Byrne “liked Ray Rice a lot” before he broke the law, and confirmed, “I like Ray Rice a lot today.” The owner of the Ravens, Steve Bisciotti, agreed with Byrne, saying that the players are like sons to him, and comparing his disappointment in Rice to how he felt after missing a shot at the Super Bowl in the 2011 season.
Many have also defended Rice by pointing out that Palmer still agreed to marry him after that night, and the Ravens’ official twitter account even tweeted that “Janay Rice says she deeply regrets the role that she played the night of the incident,” before deleting it soon after.
It was only after the footage of Rice’s attack went public on Sept. 8 that the Ravens abandoned their supposed son, terminating his contract. Shortly afterward, the NFL suspended him. Too little, too late.
Recently, a friend and Loyola alumna who now works as a fourth grade teacher in Baltimore City was talking to students who were (coincidentally) unable to play football because of their behavior in school. “Look what is going on in the news with Ray Rice,” she said.
“He should still play,” they told her, “He’s really good.” Kids like Rice a lot today, too. Clearly, the NFL’s weak response to Rice’s actions makes light of them.
Byrne posted on the Ravens website that after Rice’s first suspension, he saw the running back working out alone, in the dark, in the team’s weight room. Rice told Byrne he was ashamed, didn’t want to make any women feel uncomfortable, and that he wanted to apologize for what happened. He should apologize because it was wrong. When it comes down to it, it does not matter that Rice is sorry, or that, according to his employers, he is really a great guy. It doesn’t matter if this was the first time he hit Janay, or that she still married him afterward. It was still abuse, and Rice is doing time for his crime (so to speak).
Domestic violence is a serious issue and always needs to be handled as such. As an athlete, Ray Rice was a role model to not only our area but quite possibly the entire nation. He is a big name, and he tarnished his own reputation when he hit his wife. While it’s good that the NFL and the Baltimore Ravens finally held him accountable, the call should have come much sooner and not as a result of public pressure after the video evidence went viral. What’s wrong is wrong, no matter if the offender is an idol, a franchise, or normally a very stand-up guy.

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Ray Rice suspension: too little too late