Earlier this year, video emerged of Ravens running back Ray Rice dragging his unconscious fiance — correction, the fiance he had beaten unconscious — out of an elevator. The NFL, in their wisdom, decided to suspend him for a whole … two games. The Ravens kept him on the team. After all, once you’d won two superbowls with a guy involved in a double murder, what’s a little wife-beating among friends?
Today, the other shoe dropped. TMZ released a video from inside the elevator, showing Rice beating his fiance. The NFL suspended Rice indefinitely and the Ravens cut him. I guess they finally have a “context” for a player dragging his fiance out of an elevator after beating her unconscious. Both are saying the never saw the new video before.
I’m not convinced.
I’m not sure if they knew about the video or not (TMZ is hinting that they did). But even with the video, they don’t know anything today they didn’t know yesterday. The only thing that has really changed is the optics. We’ve gone from knowing Rice beat his fiance to actually seeing it happen. Ta-Nehisi:
The NFL claims that it had never seen the video before today. But the video that was already out there, along with the reporting, was bad enough. The idea that it took today’s release to understand the gravity of things is insupportable. You don’t become a sports and entertainment juggernaut through absent-mindedness.
The NFL claims they want to crack down on their violent image. But they never seem to really follow through. They claim they want to stop brutal hits on defenseless players. But dozens of hits go unpunished every week. They just occasionally pop up to fine one that got on ESPN. A couple of years ago, they came down very hard on the Saints for paying bounties to defensive players who injured other players. Last year, another scandal erupted when it turned out that several members of the Dolphins offensive line, notably Richie Incognito, were engaging in brutal bullying of their fellow players. In both cases, there were whispers that this sort of thing was widespread. And while the NFL came down hard on the guilty parties, they didn’t really dig too deep into the NFL’s culture.
Ray Rice is not the only player engaging in a little recreational wife-beating. The league should have made an example of him. But they didn’t; not until it got to this point. This makes me think that their attempts to clean up the league are just window dressing — a way to silence the game’s critics without making any real changes.