No more Mr. Rice guy

Ray Rice speaks alongside his wife during press conference |Photo: justwhookid.com

Ray Rice speaks alongside his wife during press conference |Photo: justwhookid.com

Although Ray Rice is gone, the NFL’s investigation still has to be scrutinized

Ray Rice speaks alongside his wife during press conference |Photo: justwhookid.com
Ray Rice speaks alongside his wife during press conference |Photo: justwhookid.com

No, Ray Rice should not have hit his then fiancé. It was a heinous thing to do, and the video is unspeakably awful. There is never any excuse for domestic violence. This has, of course, been written on, talked about, and covered extensively since the incident happened in February.

In contrast, what has been discussed comparatively less is the NFL’s amazingly flawed investigative process. The league’s investigation into Rice had so many horrific oversights and made the league look incapable – even unwilling – of policing its players.

The league initially reviewed the incident and handed Rice a two game suspension. They said they talked to Ray Rice, his wife Janay Rice, and felt that a two game suspension was adequate. Then, after the recording came out, it was upgraded to an indefinite suspension and the Baltimore Ravens immediately released Rice.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell claimed that the league “had not seen any videotape of what occurred in the elevator” and Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said that seeing the video “changed things.” The NFL used ignorance as its excuse for inaction.

This stance is very hypocritical considering what the NFL preached in March of 2012. After suspending several New Orleans Saints players and coaches for a bounty program, (in which the NFL claimed that some Saints coaches offered Saints players extra money if they injured opposing players) many of the suspended claimed they had no idea such a program was in place. Goodell justified their suspensions by saying, “ignorance is not an excuse.”

So why is ignorance an excuse now, Roger? Why are you allowed to bury your head in the sand when you want to, but your employees are not afforded the same luxury?

To be sure, Janay Rice told Commissioner Goodell that the incident in the hotel was a “one-time event, and nothing physical had happened in their relationship before or since.” She urged Goodell to not ruin Rice’s image and career with his sanctions.

Yes, this testimony could sway the way the league felt about the incident. But Janay also made these remarks in a meeting that was attended not only between Goodell and Janay, but also by Ravens General Manager Ossie Newsome, Ravens President Dick Cass, NFL Executive Vice President and General Counsel Jeff Pash, NFL Senior Vice President Adolpho Birch, and Ray Rice. In case you did not notice, the only woman in that room was Janay Rice. And more disturbing than that is Ray Rice’s presence at this meeting.

How is a domestic abuse victim supposed to give a valid testimony in the same room of the person that abused her? Is it plausible to believe that she could speak freely?

Clearly, the NFL is incapable of conducting a competent investigation. Unless something else changes, the public can expect to see this horrific story play out again, sooner rather than later.