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The NFL, not a video, should have punished Ray Rice

It’s a little sad to think that if it weren’t for a simple TMZ video, ex-Ravens running back Ray Rice would be returning to the team as we speak, after serving his initial two-game suspension for punching his then-fiancée and now-wife, Janay Palmer, knocking her unconscious.
The incident occurred on February 15; seven months ago. During the time between then and now, we’ve had almost an entire major league baseball regular season, and an entire NFL offseason. We knew right away what he was accused of; he was arrested that very night in the Atlantic City casino. For seven months, we all knew what he did. Yet it wasn’t until last Monday that the Ravens decided he should no longer be on the team, and that the NFL decided he should no longer be allowed to play at all.
We knew all along that Rice hit Palmer, and we even saw a video months ago of him dragging her out of the elevator. So why did it take a second TMZ video to finally drop the hammer on Rice? I understand that viewing the violent act is a little bit different, but it should not make any difference when determining punishment.
What else did the NFL think happened? Did she just pass out from intoxication? If that were the case, Rice would not have been suspended at all, or even been arrested. Everyone knew that he knocked her out. But for some reason, nobody knew what a knockout punch looked like until last Monday.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti both claim that they never viewed the video until it was released last Monday. The Associated Press recently stated that the NFL did in fact have a copy of the tape, but that’s an entirely different debate that will have ugly results. Regardless, both Goodell and Bisciotti pleaded ignorance, and then took action. Whether or not you believe them when they say they never saw the video, one must wonder: didn’t they still have enough evidence to punish Rice several months ago?
Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome recently stated that Rice “didn’t lie” about anything in the video, and told him everything that happened. If that’s the case, why would the Ravens need to wait see the video before releasing Rice? The answer is simple: the Ravens didn’t release Rice because they saw the video. They released him because the rest of the world saw the video.
If the Ravens had seen the video over the summer without the public seeing it, they would not have terminated Rice’s contract. If what Newsome says is true—that Rice had told him everything that happened—then that shows that the Ravens knew exactly what happened in that elevator, and did nothing.
What about when Rice and Palmer met with Goodell? Four sources have told “Outside the Lines” that Rice was truthful with Goodell as well. The sources say that Rice explained to Goodell that he punched Palmer. If this is true, then the NFL knew all along what transpired in the elevator, even without seeing the video. So why wait to see the video before suspending Rice indefinitely? Same answer as before. They suspended Rice indefinitely because the rest of the world saw the video.
This problem extends beyond just Ray Rice. Two players in particular—Ray McDonald of the San Francisco 49ers and Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers—have been accused of domestic violence, but both remain on their current squads, and both of them played in Week 1 of this season. The accounts of what both of them did are clear. But there is no video of either account, which is why both players are still playing. These cases are no different from the Rice case. Before the TMZ video, Rice was set to return to action in Week 3. He would be playing just as McDonald and Hardy are currently playing.
According to multiple sources, Greg Hardy repeatedly assaulted his girlfriend, Nicole Holder, tossing her from room to room while threatening to kill her. Holder received multiple injuries, and Hardy was arrested after the incident, before being released from custody.
But there is no video of this violent incident, which is why Hardy is still suiting up and taking the field for the Carolina Panthers. It’s understandable that the Panthers are waiting for the process to play out before terminating Hardy’s contract, but how hard is it to simply deactivate him? On Friday, the Vikings deactivated running back Adrian Peterson for their Week 2 game just moments after a warrant for his arrest was issued for child abuse. If the Panthers don’t want to release Hardy, that’s fine. But don’t let him play in a game, representing the team and the league.
The details of the McDonald incident are not nearly as disturbing as the Hardy incident, but The Sacramento Bee had reported a couple weeks ago that McDonald had a physical altercation with his fiancée at a birthday party he was having at his home. She reportedly showed police bruises on her body, leading to McDonald’s arrest, before he was freed on $25,000 bail.
If a video had been released of this incident, would McDonald still be playing for San Francisco? Hopefully not, but why is he playing even without a video? The police report is clear, but if the Niners really want to keep him on the roster while they wait out the process, then just don’t let him play.
It is time for the NFL to finally take action against domestic abuse. Forgetting about all the controversy surrounding the league office regarding whether or not they actually did see the Rice video before last Monday, the NFL still needs to do something to clean this up.
After receiving nation-wide criticism for his joke of a two-game suspension for Rice, Commissioner Goodell recently implemented harsher sanctions for domestic violence: six games for a first offense, and a lifetime ban for a second offense. Sounds fair. So why haven’t Hardy or McDonald missed a single game yet? If what they did isn’t domestic abuse, then I don’t know what is.
If the NFL is waiting for TMZ to leak more videos before punishing Hardy and McDonald, it’s never going to happen. There will never be videos of those incidents. It’s quite possible that Hardy and McDonald may never be punished, which is a sad thought.
Neither the NFL, nor the Panthers or 49ers, will have a video to help them make their decision. They will need to make it themselves, and I’m not sure they will. After all, both the NFL and the Ravens needed a video to help them make their decisions regarding Rice’s punishments.
Until the rest of the world sees what Hardy and McDonald did, the NFL will turn the other way.

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The NFL, not a video, should have punished Ray Rice