A popular figure in the NFL, Ray Rice was loved by fans, players and coaches alike. He was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2008 and the running back had the 2nd most rushing yards in Ravens history helping the Ravens to victory at the 2012 Super Bowl. However, perception of Rice shifted in February when the former Ravens back was arrested on domestic assault charges for allegedly punching his then fiancée, Janay Palmer, during a disturbance in an Atlantic City casino lift. The events that followed have severely damaged the reputation of not just Rice but of the league and the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell.
At the time of his arrest, Rice’s attorney referred to the incident as a ‘minor physical altercation.’ Following the arrest TMZ released security footage from the casino showing considerably more than a minor altercation, exposing Rice forcefully dragging his unconscious fiancée out of the elevator. The situation was clearly more serious than any party had first thought. Initially, Baltimore did the right thing, supporting the man they had bought into the league whilst they conducted their own investigation. Whilst neiher the Ravens or the NFL condoned Rice’s actions both agreed to let legal procedures play out before disciplining the player themselves.
Rice was indicted on March 27th on charges of aggravated assault and the following day he and Palmer were married with the ceremony attended by select team mates offering support. Instead of being given jail time Rice applied for and was granted a pre-trial intervention program requiring Rice to complete anger management training and counselling. Many criticised the move with some believing that Rice hadn’t shown enough remorse and was being let off the hook.
During a press conference organised by the Ravens, Rice never actively apologised for hitting his wife saying only that he was sorry for ‘he situation he and his wife were in. The now Mrs. Rice also apologised for her involvement in the incident.
Ray Rice had his disciplinary meeting with Roger Goodell on June 16th leading to the conclusion that Rice would receive only a two game suspension taking effect in the regular season. Following video evidence showing Rice dragging his unconscious partner out of a lift and the subsequent lack of remorse, this proved a baffling decision with Goodell rightly criticised and a vocal outcry at the league’s stance towards domestic violence occurring. Before long Goodell admitted he had made a mistake and on August 28th the NFL announced a much firmer policy for those charged with domestic violence. Many people wrongly expected this to be the end of the Ray Rice saga.
Ten days after the NFL’s new policy was announced a sickening video was released showing the knockout blow that Rice delivered to his then fiancée within during the Atlantic City domestic which kickstarted the entire affair. This horrifying fpptage was played on every news outlet in America leading to both the Ravens and the NFL reacting swiftly. The Ravens terminated Rice’s contract and the NFL suspended him indefinitely. But why did this video take 7 months to surface? Both the NFL and the Ravens were both adamant that they had never seen the video despite requesting access to the footage during the initial investigation. Law authorities claimed that the video had been passed to someone in the league’s office. Somebody has lied and we still don’t know who.
Former FBI director Robert Mueller III is currently leading an independent investigation into the league’s handling of the matter and whether or not Roger Goodell had previously seen the second video tape. When this investigation is complete all of its findings will be made public and from there football fans can judge for themselves if Goodell should keep his job. Whatever happens, the NFL has a lot of work to do to repair its damaged reputation and restore the trust of the public.
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