Public indicts Ray Rice and NFL

New footage of Ray Rice striking his wife, puts him, NFL under fire.

Byline: Sports Editor, Kevin Buckles Jr

Public perception is, has been, and will always be, reality. It is also why the National Football League is under attack and former Baltimore Ravens Running Back Ray Rice is now unemployed — both justifiably so.

On Feb. 15, 2014, Ray Rice and his then-fiancée, now wife, Janay Palmer, were both arrested and charged with assault after a physical altercation at Revel Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Footage from the lobby of the Casino was released by TMZ shortly after news broke about Rice’s arrest, showing the star NFL player dragging Palmer’s lifeless body out of an elevator. Luckily for Rice however, at that time there was no video evidence available to the public showing exactly what happened in that elevator, yet.

Five months later on July 25, Ray Rice was given seemingly a slap on the wrist by the NFL when he was suspended just two games, causing the first real uproar from the public.

The outcry magnified just weeks later when NFL Wide Receiver Josh Gordon was suspended by the NFL for an entire season after testing positive for marijuana — a banned substance — for the third time.

Appalling.

Ray Rice had gotten off of the hook after throwing one at his girlfriend.

To make matters worse, Palmer cited her own guilt in the matter, as if there was something that she did that warranted her being knocked out by a man with tree trunks for forearms.

“I do deeply regret the role that I played in the incident that night,” said Palmer at a May 25 Ravens press conference with Rice. “I love Ray, and I know that he will continue to prove himself to not only you all, but [to] the community, and I know he will gain your respect back in due time.”

But again, the public’s only real problem with this situation arose when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued Rice a slight two-game suspension. And that only came about because it was in comparison to other recent player suspensions, not because domestic violence was just so flagrant that it warranted a heftier punishment.

That was until 1 a.m. on Sept. 8 when TMZ released footage from what happened in the elevator between Rice and Palmer, prior to Rice having to drag her out of it.

The video shows the couple entering the elevator, apparently having a disagreement of some sort. Rice proceeds to taunt Palmer by nudging his head at her within close range of her face, when she finally gets fed up and raises her hand to strike him. But anticipating her hit, Rice was quickly able to deliver a cruel, vicious, punch to the side of her head, sending her crashing into a metal railing inside of the elevator, knocking her out of consciousness.

The video going viral sent the media and everyone alike, into an absolute frenzy, ultimately sparking the Ravens and Commissioner Goodell to take action just 13 hours later.

Did people not know what someone getting punched unconscious looked like?

Or was it that people who have never experienced a domestic violence incident thought it was less traumatic of an event than what occurred between Rice and his girlfriend?

Whatever the reason was, actually seeing the entire scene of what really happened made the incident much more real to viewers, rather than just relying on their imagination.

For example, a vast majority of Americans have been clamoring for nearly a decade now to bring home all troops in the Middle East where, according to icasualties.org, roughly 6,700 U.S. soldiers have died in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001.

But ironically, in the four short years that World War II occurred, nearly half a million U.S. soldiers were killed in action. However, one would be hard-pressed to find an American during that period who did not support their troops in combat as movies, commercials, and any kinds of sales at the time were all promoting World War II.

The difference between then and now? The public can actually see everything that is going on overseas which sprouts the gut-wrenching reactions of what war is really like, turning their perception into reality.

The public is now experiencing a similar circumstance with Ray Rice and domestic violence.

Now as a result of the public’s outcry, the Ravens felt enough pressure to terminate Rice’s contract, and the NFL to suspend him indefinitely.

In addition, the Associated Press reported Wednesday that the NFL office received the video showing Ray Rice punching then-fiancee in the elevator, which Commissioner Goodell had denied ever seeing earlier in the week. The report also says that police sent the report in April, at the NFL’s request, but again the league denied ever receiving it. Even ESPN reporters Chris Mortensen, Adam Schefter, and Jane McManus were told by “league sources” about the nuances of the video, which they all reported on on more than one occasion.

“There is not a lot the league can say, at this point, to undo the wrong that has been done here. The league got this wrong,” said Schefter live on ESPN’s SportsCenter the morning of Sept. 8. “This is arguably the biggest black eye the league has ever had.”

Would all of the subsequent actions have occurred if the new footage had not have been released? Probably not.

But public perception and it’s impact is undefeated, and now Ray Rice and the NFL are paying the price.

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