Back in February of this year Baltimore Raven running back Ray Rice and his girlfriend Janay Palmer were leaving an Atlantic City casino when the two got into a verbal altercation. Ray punched her in the face, knocking her unconscious. TMZ posted a video of the football star dragging Janay’s limp body from an elevator.
Yesterday the NFL and its commissioner Roger Goodell handed down Rice’s punishment for breaking the league’s conduct policy: a two-game suspension. His coach was pleased.
“It’s not a big deal; it’s just part of the process,” Coach Harbaugh said. “We’ve said from the beginning that the circumstances will determine the consequences. There are consequences when you make a mistake like that. I stand behind Ray. He’s a heck of a guy.”
His teammates were relieved.
“Ray Rice is a great guy. I’ve known him for six, seven years now. I know he knows he made a mistake and he’s going to work through it,” said Ravens defensive lineman Haloti Ngata. “All I can do is just support him and be his teammate”…
“…I know how Ray is as a person and I know how Janay is, and they’re working to improve on everything,” said wide receiver Torrey Smith. “I’ll be glad when those two games are up.”
The fans were satisfied.
“I think it was the right decision. I don’t think it was harsh,” one Ravens fan said.
“Everybody makes mistakes, and I guess he made a mistake. And I guess his testimony will be proving it to us on the field,” said another.
“He’s a good guy at heart. We’re all human,” another fan said.
“It’s his first offense. I think that, all and all, it was fitting of what he did,” another said.
But there were dissenting opinions. Mine for instance. I’ve said before that the NFL is shockingly tolerant of violence against women.
That’s not to say that they’re tolerant of all offensive behavior. Last year the Miami Dolphins suspended Richie Incognito for bullying and casual racial slurs, and that lasted for eight games. The league just suspended Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon for smoking pot, and that’s a season-long ban – sixteen games. I suppose if we’re to gauge the NFL’s value system, we’re to assume that being a pothead is eight times worse than beating a woman senseless. Strange.
Unfortunately, beating women, or even killing them, is nothing new to professional football. Here’s a look at just a few of Ray Rice’s fellow ball carriers:
In 1999, Jim Brown was convicted of vandalizing his wife’s car. He also was charged with “making” terrorist threats to her, a charge later dropped.
The court gave Brown the option of doing community service and receiving counseling, rather than doing jail time. He refused, taking the six-month jail sentence, released after four months. While in jail, he went on a hunger strike for two weeks.
Rather than suffer through anger management classes, the Greatest Running Back Ever went to jail, then went on a hunger strike.
At 12:10 am on June 13, 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were found murdered outside Brown’s Bundy Drive condo in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles. O.J. Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson had divorced two years earlier. Evidence found and collected at the scene led police to suspect that O.J. Simpson was the murderer. Nicole had been stabbed multiple times in the head and neck with defense wounds on her hands. The wound through her neck was gaping, through which the larynx could be seen, and vertebra C3 was also incised.
The Second Greatest Running Back Ever slashed the neck of his ex-wife from ear to ear.
Lawrence Phillips may be the poster boy for anger control problems. He has been convicted several times of assaulting women. The most notable probably came into college when he broke into his ex’s dorm and then dragged her by the hair down three flights of stairs.
Philips is currently serving a 30-year sentence after he tried to run over a group of teens after they got into an argument during a pick-up football game.
One of Nebraska’s Greatest Running Backs Ever is serving 30 years in prison for a number of violent crimes. Sadly Phillips never became an NFL star, perhaps because he revealed his tendencies in college.
This was no one-time crime. For the first time, authorities had connected all the attacks and realized what they had. “Because of his history, this guy’s basically a serial rapist,” said Simpson, who noted that [Dave] Meggett’s attacks all followed a similar pattern: He targeted young, vulnerable, and compromised white women. He befriended them — or “groomed” them, in criminal justice parlance — often under a false name. Finally, he used the same hold while raping them. His pattern of this behavior was known to stretch back more than a decade, and as his life spun out of control, the behavior was escalating, with the time between assaults becoming shorter.
One of the New York Giants Greatest Running Backs – their Greatest Kick Returner Ever – raped an untold number of women. He’s also now serving 30 years.
Now how about some wide receivers? The Carolina Panthers:
Rae Carruth’s girlfriend, the woman carrying his baby, was shot four times in a drive-by shooting. She survived long enough to call 9-1-1.
She described to the dispatchers that Carruth pulled up in front of her and stopped his car so that she could not move. The assailants soon drove up next to her and shot her. Carruth received an 18-24 year sentence for his involvement in the crime.
The Seattle Seahawks:
According to witnesses at the scene and the Crown prosecutors, [Tommy] Kane had been discussing suicide before his wife arrived. While arguing about the possibility of divorce, he dragged her into the kitchen by the hair, slammed her head on the floor, punched her repeatedly in the face, and stabbed her in the throat…
Canadian Superior Court Justice Fraser Martin described Kane as “narcissistic” and “manipulative.” He also said, “By your act, Mr. Kane, four children are deprived of their mother. The circumstances of the homicide were particularly shocking.” He sentenced Kane to 18 years in prison, which Kane’s attorney told the press was “unusually harsh.”
The Miami Dolphins:
…Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson was released on bail today after allegedly head-butting his new wife during an argument over his purchase of a box of condoms.
Johnson, 34, and his wife, Evelyn Lozado, who have a reality TV show due to premiere next month, were ordered to have no contact.
The two were unpacking groceries Saturday night when Lozado found a receipt for a box of condoms in the trunk, according to the police report. They sat in the driveway in their parked Smart Car, arguing, when Johnson grabbed Lozado and headbutted her, she told Davie, Fla., police.
Here’s what Johnson did:
Maybe if the fans could see pictures of the victims they’d begin to care. And maybe that’s the way to get the league to change, by getting the people who pay their salaries involved. Left to themselves, the NFL has never shown any interest in protecting the girlfriends and wives of their players. Yesterday was no different.