Let’s see, how do we twist this into being appropriate for a Seattle sports blog? I know! Ray Rice sucks at football and I hope the Seahawks never sign him.
With that out of the way …
We’ve all seen the original video of Ray Rice’s then-girlfriend (now-wife) being dragged out of an elevator, unconscious. As it was just the two of them in there, it was pretty obvious what had happened: he beat the shit out of her. I can’t rightly remember if there was any admission of guilt or what happened after that; all I know is: he didn’t go to prison, she stuck by his side, and he ended up getting a 2-game suspension for his troubles.
Then, yesterday, TMZ finally got a hold of the video from inside the elevator and unleashed it upon the world. In the video, you get a clear view of Ray Rice beating the shit out of her, which is what we all assumed happened in the first place.
As you can probably tell, aside from seeing snippets of the original video, I didn’t follow this story all that closely. Seemed to me that it was an obvious case of abuse. I guess I just forgot about it as time passed, as I don’t remember ever hearing about what happened with his criminal case. I guess she didn’t want to press charges? That doesn’t matter, of course; the state obviously has the right to press charges independently – which, GOOD GOD, how did they let this one slip through the cracks?
What it all boils down to is: everyone fucked up. The state fucked up for not prosecuting his ass to the full extent of the law. The NFL fucked up by only suspending him for two games. The media fucked up as it collectively shrugged its shoulders instead of digging further into this issue (seriously, how did it take so long for this video to get out, and why is TMZ doing all the heavy lifting when these supposedly serious media outlets like the New York Times, CNN, et al, are sitting back picking goobers out of their asses?). The main issue at hand seems to be: no one saw the video from inside the elevator and no one who mattered (the district attorney, the commissioner, the head honchos of the Ravens) even WANTED to see the video.
How does that happen? I can see why the NFL wanted to sweep this under the rug: they don’t need any more negative press in this post-Aaron Hernandez world. Plus, Ray Rice and his lady friend kissed and made up, so all the better. Just a bump on the road to a happy marriage! But, how does the district attorney not see the video? And if they did, how do they let that pass?
If there’s one thing you know about the world we’re living in, it’s that the skeletons will ALWAYS make their way out of the closet. Just ask Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton and any other celebrity who’s had their phones hacked and their naked selfies distributed throughout the Internet. Everyone KNEW there was video from inside the elevator. I’m sure that was one of the first questions asked when people started sniffing around this investigation. It’s one thing for the NFL to sit down and take the plea of the victim to heart. But, to ONLY go by that plea – of a victim who may or may not have been under duress – is pretty stupid when you know there’s a video out there that will be leaked. It’s only a matter of time. And, in this case, time came up yesterday.
At one end of the spectrum, you’ve got an unimaginable amount of stupidity. On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got corrupt, evil fuckheaditude. Everyone involved in the decision to not send Ray Rice to jail, to not suspend him for more than two games, to not ban him indefinitely right from the start, falls somewhere on that spectrum. And, if the story is true – that they wanted to remain willfully ignorant to try to cover their asses if-and-when the shit hit the fan – then that falls much closer to evil fuckheaditude in my book.
As for Ray Rice, yeah, he’s a piece of shit. He deserves to be kicked out of the NFL. He deserves to lose out on endorsement deals. He deserves to have his dream end right here. Whether that’s actually what’s going to happen remains to be seen. I mean, shit, Michael Vick is back in football and he’s practically the devil (or, at the very least, Cruella de Vil … OH MY GOD THAT’S ACTUALLY HOW DISNEY SPELLS HER NAME!). If you’re in any way invested in this story, you probably despise Ray Rice because he beats women.
For starters, no, it’s not okay to beat women. But, really, it’s not okay to beat on ANYONE. Especially if you’re a big, strong football player and you’re clocking someone half your size. But, that’s neither here nor there.
Keith Olbermann had a nice little rant last night. Here it is, if you somehow missed it. I generally like Olbermann. Some people think he’s a pompous blowhard, but that’s because he IS a pompous blowhard. But, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have valid points on a wide range of topics. I was right there with him on his Ray Rice stuff, until the very end, when he talked about the NFL being boycotted by all of us if the commissioner isn’t banned and if Baltimore’s executives aren’t fired.
For starters, I seriously doubt – if Olbermann is any kind of serious professional football fan – that he’s going to sit there on Sunday with his arms folded, watching TCM classic movies or some damn thing when his favorite team is playing on the other channel. But, he does raise a good point about fandom.
What would have to happen to get you to stop watching the NFL?
The answer to that question is different for everyone. For the casual fan, who doesn’t really have a favorite team and isn’t all that invested in the goings on, it probably wouldn’t take much. They could take on Keith Olbermann’s challenge to boycott the NFL and probably not lose a whole lot of sleep. But, for the hardcore addicts out there, what are we supposed to do?
I’ve been watching the NFL since I was a small child. I’ve been a Seahawks fan for practically my whole life (minus a period in the 90s when I would troll my family and root against this hapless organization just to get a rise out of them). Football is my favorite sport and so much of my autumns are dictated by what’s going on on Sundays. Fantasy Football, Pick ‘Em, Eliminator Pools (which I somehow always manage to lose in week 1), and the games the Seahawks are involved in. I spend $200 just to get NFL Sunday Ticket for my computer, so I’m not stuck watching the dregs that Fox and CBS make me watch. There’s nothing romantic about my affiliation with football, but it does dominate many of my conversations, just as it fills my days leading up to the game, reading countless articles and blogs on the topic.
Really, it’s more disease than anything else. The NFL is a cancer flowing through my body; I’m powerless to resist its charms!
The only way I’d stop watching the NFL is if the Seahawks were bought out and moved to another city. And even then … I do like the Atlanta Falcons an awful lot; I suppose it wouldn’t take much to just bump my affinity over there …
So, does that make me an accessory after the fact? Am I implicitly condoning Ray Rice’s actions? Of course not, don’t be silly. For starters, I’m not a fan of Ray Rice. I’m not a fan of the Baltimore Ravens. Hell, I’m not REALLY even a fan of the NFL. I’m a fan of the Seattle Seahawks. I can dislike how the NFL runs its organization, I can disagree with certain rules and policies – hell, I can VEHEMENTLY disagree – yet still be a fan of the product.
I can do that, just as I can do that with the United States of America. There’s a lot about this country I find fucked up and retarded. I think all politicians are corrupt pieces of shit only out for their own interests. I think the drug laws in this country are ridiculous. I think the medical health and insurance industries are sucking this country dry. But, you know what? There are parts of this country I really like too. I’m not going to boycott America just because it’s run by assholes and fuck ups, just like I’m not going to boycott the NFL because it’s run by the same.
What interests me more is how Ravens fans reconcile themselves with what they’ve seen on these videos. Ray Rice has been such a huge part of that team for so long now; he helped bring them an NFL championship and was certainly well on his way to a Ring of Honor spot (or whatever they call their organizational hall of fame). This would be equivalent to Marshawn Lynch beating the shit out of his significant other in an elevator and seeing it all on video.
How would I handle that? I’ve always been of the opinion that I don’t care what these people do in their personal lives, as long as they help the team win. If someone drives drunk or does drugs or gets arrested for some other reason, I don’t care! Now, obviously, in such a high-profile situation as this, it ends up working itself out: Ray Rice is off the team and out of the league. So, if I’m a Ravens fan, I can continue being a Ravens fan without being a specific fan of Ray Rice.
With me, it’s always about the team. Which would make it a little more difficult to reconcile my feelings about the team president and general manager also turning a blind eye to the whole thing. MAYBE, they were directed by the NFL front office to let it go. MAYBE, they were directed by ownership to let it go. Or, maybe they just didn’t want to rock the boat. Players could look at the team tacking on games to a player’s suspension as being quite antagonistic. The NFL is supposed to dole out the punishment, not the team they’re trying to win games for. But, I’m not buying that. If it were me, and I was a fan of the Ravens, I’d want the organization to take a hard line, even harder than the NFL’s. Maybe not on its asinine substance abuse policy, where you can be suspended just by drinking in your own home, but certainly on something like domestic violence.
Look at it this way, the University of Washington and Chris Petersen just suspended Marcus Peters for the next game because of a personal foul penalty in the previous game, followed by Peters allegedly throwing a tantrum on the sideline when he was taken out of the game. I don’t like not having one of our best defenders on the field against Illinois – especially when our secondary is so maligned – but I LOVE that he’s sending the message to other players that this crap won’t be tolerated.
It should be that way for the Ravens and frankly, it should be that way for the NFL.
I have no sympathy for a multi-millionaire who fucks up his own life. Ray Rice had the golden goose and now it’s gone. Is it an unfair standard? Sure it is. A regular Joe probably isn’t losing his job and his primary means to earn a living just because he beats up his wife. Then again, a regular Joe is probably going to see some jail time for his crimes, because he’s not a multi millionaire who can buy his way out of these things.
But, make no mistake, Ray Rice isn’t in this shit because he’s a woman beater. He’s in this shit because he beat a woman, it was caught on video, and that video leaked to the world. Let none of us delude ourselves as we condemn this man. We’ve been tacitly endorsing this behavior since the game began and started to get huge.
You think Ray Rice is the first NFL player to beat the shit out of his girlfriend or wife? You think YOU’RE free from guilt because no one on your favorite team was arrested or kicked off the team? Think again. Just because we don’t hear about it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Hell, we still DO hear about it, and those players don’t necessarily suffer the slings and arrows that Ray Rice has felt (Greg Hardy, anyone?).
I know I’m supporting a league that supports domestic violence. That supports its players pretty much doing anything they want – up to and including murder, Ray Lewis – and getting away with it because they’re rich and famous and too big to fail. I also support a league that extorts cities into paying for stadia even though its teams are owned by some of the richest men in the world.
But, you know what? When I eat my Taco Del Mar burrito, I don’t sit around thinking about how the meat got processed. When I have a beer, I don’t think about all the millions of alcoholics who have ruined their lives. That’s how it is with the NFL. When I sit down to watch the Seahawks thump their next opponent, I’m not thinking about all the nasty, evil shit the NFL is involved with. If I did that, if I lived my life that way, I’d never find an ounce of joy in anything. My whole life would be consumed with hating everything because it’s somehow, tangentially related to something that’s despicable.
Seriously, think about it. Think about all the things in your life that either bring you joy or keep you alive. Your job, where you shop, the movies you watch, the magazines you read, the food you eat, the country you live in, the city you call home. If you lived your life boycotting all the things you find fault in, as Keith Olbermann might suggest, you’d be the most insufferable prick in the world or you’d be dead.
Sometimes, you just have to let things go. I know that’s not how things get done and how great social change is enacted, but leave all that shit to the people who actually give a damn. Because either way, they’re going to find a way to complain and voice their complaints until the rancor and outrage is at its zenith. I’ll be over here, watching football on Sunday with a beer in one hand and a pork burrito in the other, refreshing my fantasy football page on my laptop, with an erection at full mast, wondering just how in the hell it can get any better than this.