Ray Rice Ripple Effect: Awareness, Fairness, Still Clueless
Unquestionably, NFL-related events this week have been steeped in human drama.
And perhaps the best stage for it would be the theater of the absurd.
It's clear what happened, but it's time to take a hard look at what's really happened.
The uproar itself was unconscionable for the mere fact that it was a belated uproar. At least it caused true colors to become stark:
To date, the elevator video has had more impact than the punch. If it was the other way around, the national discussion -- if there would've been one -- would have occurred after the actual incident and possibly would've had a different tone. Now, the issue is becoming more an indictment of the NFL's way of doing business.
And in the league's eyes, Ray Rice, his wife, and others have been reduced to collateral damage and/or bit players.
Here's where they currently stand:
Janay Rice: As if being knocked cold by a UFC-worthy punch wasn't tragic enough, the resultant indignity must run a close second:
- She was effectively compelled by the NFL/Ravens to appear at a press conference after the original incident, basically defending her fiancé/husband/attacker.
- She was forced to re-live the totality of her attack on a continuous basis after the elevator video was released by TMZ;
- The apparent stablization of her domestic life was thrown into total upheavel by universal reaction to the elevator video;
- While Mr & Mrs Rice are by no means destitute due to past NFL earnings, financial maintenance of her current lifestyle has been significantly jeopardized; and
- In the cruelest injustice of all, she'll be stigmatized for years to come as the victim in this incident.
Ray Rice: As the perpetrator who took his athletic-celebrity privilege to an incredible level of stupidity:
- He's still protected by double-jeopardy provisions from any further legal action being taken against him:
- Just as incredibly, there was nothing in his history -- save, maybe for attending a college where athletic abuse made an appearance -- to portend what occurred;
- As a player in a league where over half of players' arrests are for domestic violence with few being docked career-wise, he -- for lack of a better term -- drew the short straw, facilitated by video; and
- As someone who adhered to the court ruling and attended counseling -- doing well by all accounts -- he now finds himself suspended from the NFL under a policy that hasn't even been implemented yet.
Jim McClain: The prosecuting attorney in this case contends he had little choice but to offer Rice the plea agreement that he did, and he saw both the hallway and elevator video. In essence, that's the priority the American justice system gives to domestic abuse. If nothing else, McClain deserves credit for making the most pertinent point in this entire sordid affair:
I’m very glad that people are repulsed by the video, because this type of violence is an ugly, ugly thing.
But the fact that this assault was on video makes it no more nor any less ugly than those hundreds of domestic violence situations where similar violence was inflicted on a victim and it’s not captured on videotape.
Reality is reality whether it’s captured on videotape or not. And the reality of violence is that it is always ugly.
Domestic violence awareness: If any good has come of this at all, it's that more victims are coming forward. The national hotline reports an 84% increase in calls since the elevator video was released.
The darker cloud around that dim silver lining? Here's Katie Ray-Jones, CEO of the hotline:
Last year, we didn't answer over 77,000 calls due to lack of resources.
Our advocates were really busy before, so they're definitely feeling the impact of the video now. This is a situation where women are holding longer on the lines and waiting for an advocate to be free. But we don't have the financial resources to bring in more staff, so we're at a place where we're just encouraging advocates to do the best they can.
Its budget was one of the automatic cuts due to the sequestration imposed by Congress. Good luck with that. Yet again, the nation gets the government it deserves.
TMZ: The revelation may be that this outfit actually runs stories on people who aren't wearing bikinis. Still, it's following in the tradition of tabloids that love to tweak the Establishment nose and embarrass its more staid media brethren in the process.
Fox News: Leave it to the extreme right's version of Pravda to accompany the NFL in a cesspool of cluelessness. Even by whatever standards it allegedly has, Fox & Friends outdid itself, and considering the source, that's a remarkable achievement:
The NFL Breast Cancer Awareness campaign: Watch the league fawn all over this promotion next month. But so far, the NFL hasn't said anything about increasing its measly payout to the American Cancer Society. All that pink merchandise that's put on sale? The NFL gives the ACA only 5% of the proceeds. That's only slightly better than what it pays for cleavage on the sidelines.
The NFL: Los Angeles is the luckiest major metro area in the USA for the mere fact it's nowhere near the stench of these low-lifes in suits and ties. Drug lords have more of a social conscience than the NFL. Denials about concussions, and then lowballing settlements? Par for the course.
Hiring an allegedly independent investigator to report on the elevator tape's travels? Yeah, right.
The sad fact here is that, no matter how serious the Rice incident is -- and it is -- it's merely the latest flashpoint to confirm how totally selfish, greedy, and arrogant the NFL really is. The league has no regard for women, players, and the public other than what it can squeeze out of them. The scale of its hypocrisy is breathtaking.
In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt was ready to ban football unless it cleaned up its act on the field. That's ultimately how the NCAA came to be. Just over three decades later, the University of Chicago -- a founder of the Big Ten, alma mater of the first Heisman Trophy winner, and a power under football's first legendary coach, Amos Alonzo Stagg -- dropped the game because it was fed up with the direction it was taking.
On player health ramifications alone, some rational observers believe football as it's played now will look completely different in 20 years. Perhaps. But if those who run the NFL don't get a clue, sports fans may have rejected it well before then.