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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Rice’s termination is nothing but a face saving exercise by the Ravens and the NFL

Ray Rice has been at the center of a domestic violence issue

Back in February, TMZ released footage from a hallway security camera of the Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Rice dragging his unconscious fiancée Janay Palmer out of an elevator at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City. As a result of the footage, the NFL conducted an independent investigation as well as speaking with both Palmer and Rice, and suspended the running back for the first two games of the season under a violation of the personal conduct policy.

It wasn’t until the afternoon of Sept. 8 that the Baltimore Ravens terminated the contract of running back Rice, who later that same day was suspended indefinitely by the NFL. These were the desperate moves of two organizations scrambling to save face, because on the morning of Sept. 8 TMZ Sports posted newly acquired video from the inside of the hotel elevator where Rice knocked out his then-fiancée Palmer.

Make no mistake: the NFL, the Ravens, and the District Attorney’s office of Atlantic County, NJ, have all failed. They failed to hand down a fitting punishment when the story broke in February (over 7 months ago); they failed to properly investigate every possible detail they could about the incident; and most importantly, they failed Janay Palmer.

It seems that the NFL was more concerned about protecting Ray Rice, a marquee player for a recent Super Bowl winning franchise that makes an awful lot of money, than they were about doing their due diligence when it came to the very serious domestic violence incident between Rice and Palmer.

The NFL and the Ravens organization quickly went into damage control mode after the release of the video, terminating Rice’s contract and suspending him indefinitely. Both organizations then vehemently stated that they had not seen the video prior to its release to the public on Sept. 8, although a report from the AP claims that an NFL executive received a copy of the tape in April. Public outcry has seen calls for Commissioner Goodell, along with other high-ranking officials involved in the investigation, to resign.

Whether or not you believe the NFL had not seen the video before its public release does not matter, because a grave injustice has taken place either way. If the NFL had seen the tape before Sept. 8, it makes the original two-game suspension look even lighter and gives the appearance of a cover-up. If they had not seen the video, it shows that the NFL did not investigate and examine every possible piece of evidence. It is no secret that there are cameras in casino elevators, and if NFL did not see the tape or failed to take all possible measures access every available piece of evidence then the entire investigation by the NFL was a sham.

Let’s not forget the Ravens’ role in this miscarriage of justice, for it was the organization that held an uncomfortable press conference on May 23 for Janay Palmer and Ray Rice in which he apologized to team executives, teammates, coaches, and fans for how it affected them, but not for the incident itself—and not to the woman he knocked unconscious.

It was the organization that tweeted (and has since deleted) that “Janay Palmer says she deeply regrets the role that she played the night of the incident.” The role she played in which, according to the footage from inside the elevator, she was struck first, hit back in defense, and was then knocked unconscious. Yet the Ravens organization used their Twitter account to display a message of victim-blaming in the domestic violence incident, a cowardly act by an organization trying to protect the image of their star running back.

There will be those that argue that Janay Palmer still married Rice one month later and that the two have supposedly worked through their differences and as such the situation should be laid to rest. Regardless of the state of Palmer and Rice’s relationship, the NFL and the Ravens still had a duty to fulfill in investigating the incident.

Significant mainstream media attention had been paid to the situation and the release of the hallway security camera footage showed evidence of a domestic violence incident. To sweep the incident under the rug would be to turn a blind eye to the safety of Janay Palmer.

Ray Rice committed the cowardly act of striking a woman and rendering her unconscious. In lieu of showing genuine remorse for the violent act, Rice provided what can only be described as an Oscar-worthy performance at the May 23 press conference, asking for forgiveness and apologizing to “the kids.”

Rice did not apologize for “the role that he played the night of the incident” like the woman he knocked out did. He had a chance to come clean and be honest with the watching world and begin the healing process, but instead chose to deliver a speech aimed at saving his own image, money, and NFL job.

The sad message displayed by this whole fiasco is that money and football are more important than Janay Palmer. The NFL and the Baltimore Ravens could not risk losing a high profile star that brought in copious amounts of money even though he broke the law and struck a woman.

They could not sacrifice the revenue and TV viewership Ray Rice brings in order to ensure that some form of justice was served. They acted in a self-serving, irresponsible manner in covering up the indiscretions of the star running back simply to make more money and to win more football games. The NFL and the Ravens should not be commended for terminating and indefinitely suspending Ray Rice on Sept. 8. Their actions are seven months too late.​