This is a difficult topic to broach, despite the already large amount of discussion on it.
Janay Rice says she deeply regrets the role that she played the night of the incident.— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) May 23, 2014
I'm not writing about this for web hits. I wasn't asked to touch on it, and I'm not being compensated a single dime for however many clicks, reads or recs it gets. Nothing. Sometimes, something just hits you. You feel it's worth fighting for.
Everything about this is horrible. From the actual assault, to the punishment, to the sports-shouter's reaction, to the team actually tweeting that the victim is sorry for her role that lead to her being battered by a man.
There's a near universal agreement on the situation regarding Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, and the alleged assault that took place on his then fiance. Just about everyone you see comment on it agrees: Both Rice's actions and the subsequent lack of ample punishment were deplorable.
But, then, there are folks who are "sick of hearing about it," and those who are pleading that we all "move on" because reasonable action was taken on someone who wasn't convicted, and has the backing and forgiveness of the victim.
ESPN's Keith Olbermann -- among many others -- has already taken Rice to task for what he's done, and then later the pounced on the breach of ethics by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Here's the money shot in the second linked video:
More than a month ago, Roger Goodell conducted a meeting that poisoned the evidence well in the Ray Rice case. It was a meeting that had he been a police officer, or a prosecutor, or an attorney, or a judge involved in this, it would have gotten Goodell fired. Or, at minimum, it would have resulted in his being removed from this case.
Olbermann talks about a Peter King report that Rice's wife made a "moving and apparently convincing case to Goodell during a June 16 hearing at Goodell’s office in Manhattan—attended by Rice, GM Ozzie Newsome, club president Dick Cass of Baltimore; and Goodell, Jeff Pash and Adolpho Birch of the league."
If you're in the sick-of-this-story camp, this should be enough to get you re-invested in demanding answers from the NFL. I'm not going to sit here and pretend to know what was going on in the victim's mind, or jump to a conclusion that she pleaded on Rice's behalf out of fear. However, there's a mountain of evidence from domestic violence cases that suggest that is absolutely a possibility here. It's why victims aren't subject to give their statements in front of the alleged assailant during questioning. That the NFL allowed this to happen is reprehensible. That they factored it into their decision making on punishment is something I don't have an adjective for.
To those ready to move on: Yes, I know. Substance abuse is collectively bargained, so comparing suspension lengths to something of that nature isn't appropriate. And, yes, I know. Not all cases are created equal, so you can't just cherry pick things like Adam Jones' four-game ban for fighting with his bodyguard, or Ben Roethlisberger's four-game suspension for a crime with which he wasn't even charged.
But that's exactly why this is worth fighting for: We don't know enough.
I'm not going to tell you all how to think, but what I know is that if this were my mother or sister, I would be up in arms trying to get to the bottom of what happened. I would demand answers -- from both the NFL and my loved one -- as to how such a meeting could have been used in this case.
Instead, because it's not someone we know, we just want to click on the next story about training camp.
In an age where we race to Twitter to tell a sports journalist that he's an idiot because he cites pitcher wins as a meaningful stat, and where we crusade to protect the image of our star quarterback while he faces false claims during the off-season, how can we sit here and brush something so much more meaningful under the rug?
An actual crime happened here. No one smoked a joint. No one cheap-shotted an opponent mid-game.
You're reading these words because I'm so passionate about a sport, that I from time to time like to massage words together about it. But that doesn't make the importance of the game any less trivial. Of things that are important in life, sports don't sit atop my list. I love them. I think about them more than what is perhaps healthy. But if I had to choose between them and my family, friends, work and dreams, it wouldn't take much time to eliminate them from the choices.
If the NFL believes that we, the public, should know the details of substances that enter the body of a player, then why are they so eager to protect the "privacy" of a man brutally beating his wife? Ah, yes, because a special committee in the senate hasn't set out to demand answers. And because the media hasn't applied years of pressure.
Sadly, the NFL knows how this will end. The fury will die down. The media will move on to other topics. And, most importantly, everyone who has read the hundreds of thousands of words expended on this topic -- even if they are currently outraged -- will still be going to go out to spend infinitely more money on their product this year.
I hope I'm wrong. I hope people will continue to care. We have the platforms to express that care, and to demand answers. I hope all of you will care.