DOMESTIC VIOLENCE JUST GOT REAL
Let me start this post with a disclaimer: I hate the Ravens. Of course, this aversion is not as strong as the absolute disgust I feel for the Pittsburgh Steelers; but it’s a close second. However, the repugnance felt for my AFC North rivals has little do with my position on the absolute travesty of the “punishment” handed down by the NFL to Ravens’ running back Ray Rice in lieu of his recent act of domestic violence. Sure, we only saw the aftermath of Rice dragging his unconscious then fiance, Janay Palmer, from the elevator and propping her up á la Weekend at Bernies while he checked his email. That said, it certainly doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to assume Little Ray went all out Solange on her ass when the doors were closed.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND THE NFL
The lax nature of the sanctions handed down by the NFL to players for committing acts of domestic violence has always been an issue and, admittedly, my personal loyalty remained unfazed when my boy Chris Henry was caught in the mix (R.I.P. Slim). But, that was before I became a family attorney and saw the rawness and effects of domestic violence first hand. I had hoped that Rice, a long time role model for American youth, would take a page from Brandon Marshall’s book and admit that his actions were indefensible and that he needed help. Instead, Rice held a press conference after the tape leaked filled with prepared sound bites. What was most disturbing about this one man pity party, however, was that he ensured his new wife offered her apologies to reporters. The Ravens were quick to capitalize on this, immediately tweeting ‘Janay Rice says she deeply regrets the role that she played the night of the incident.’
The newly minted Wifey’s apology only exemplifies the larger issue of the societal pattern this serious issue presents. In fact, the majority of domestic violence victims witnessed their parents engage in this type of behavior and it thereby becomes acceptable, if not expected. It is for this very reason that I constantly preach to my clients that no matter how much you hate your ex, you have to love your child more. To turn a blind eye to the complexities of abuse and the pattern that stems from it is not only ignorant, but a disservice to humanity. You best believe that every kid that has a Ray Rice poster on his wall has seen the TMZ footage and heard that Rice got a standing ovation from Ravens fans when he took the field for training camp this week. C’mon man. CSNY didn’t croon, ‘you, who are on the road, must have a code that you can live by’ for nothing.
Of course, it did take Brandon Marshall quite some time to comprehend the severity of his actions and domestic violence inevitably led to Chris Henry’s untimely death. Due to the foregoing, what really sent me over the edge was the reaction; or lack thereof, from Ravens Coach Jim Harbaugh and the NFL as a whole. Earlier this week, I heard Adolpho Birch, the NFL’s senior VP of labor policy appear on Mike and Mike; the only commentary offered by an agent of the organization thus far. Surely, I assumed that Birch couldn’t take the same view as Harbaugh who glossed over Rice’s behavior as a mere indiscretion. I mean, yeah, Harbs does have a reputation around the league of being somewhat of a dick, but the guy has a daughter for Chrissake! You’d think that would carry with it at least a glimmer of outrage over Rice’s reprehensible actions…yeah, not so much. In Birch’s interview, he took it to another level, justifying the two game suspension (which he referred to as a “multiple” game suspension more times than I could count) as a valid punishment and a staunch deterrent for any other NFL player finding himself in the same situation. I meannn… really, bro?! What is possibly most disturbing about the NFL’s response to Rice’s conduct, however, is the deafening silence of Commissioner Roger Goodell. For a guy reminiscent of Mussolini when it comes to violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, his failure to address the situation is abhorrent at best.
CAN I AT LEAST GET A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PSA, ROG?!
Every NINE SECONDS a woman is assaulted or beaten in the United States. Think about that. Ray Rice’s behavior handed the NFL a perfect platform to take a stand against domestic violence. The opportunity to protect the sanctity of the league, and thereby the shield of the NFL, was handed to them on a silver platter. For some reason, they chose to fiercely decline. And for that, I have to agree with Golic and say the shield has, most definitely, taken a dent.