Ray Rice was arguably one of the best current running backs in the NFL, but his reputation quickly backfired when he was charged for domestic violence against his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer. Recently, TMZ leaked the actual footage of Rice and Palmer’s altercation in an elevator that left Palmer unconscious after a punch to the head in Atlantic City in February. Rice was charged for assault, but this leaked video has now raised questions in the NFL community about the lenient punishment he faced from the league, as he was only charged with a two-game suspension and a fine of $530,000. However, quickly after the video surfaced, the Baltimore Ravens decided to release Ray Rice from the team.
TMZ released the elevator footage early Monday morning, and it has gone viral on social media since then. This has caused an uproar within the NFL, its fans, and even to the rest of the public as many questioned why Rice was only charged with a two-game suspension. Many NFL fans are currently questioning the NFL and may be wondering where these consequences come from. Players can get suspended for multiple games for various reasons. Wes Welker of the Denver Broncos was suspended for taking amphetamines. His teammate Matt Prater was suspended for another four games for violating his current Substance Abuse Policy for a DUI charge. Aldon Smith of the San Francisco 49ers was suspended for a total of nine games for two occurrences that included a weapon charge and DUI arrest. Welker, Prater, and Smith are among over 30 suspended players in this 2015 NFL season. Where does Rice fit into this? Drug usage is undoubtedly an issue that should not be taken lightly in professional sports, but domestic violence has been a rising issue in both the NFL and world news.
The NFL has created certain policies in regards to drug usage, but with many of the league’s players being involved in domestic violence altercations, this specific one was one of many that led to new policies focusing on violence against women. The NFL has already been making small changes to enforce how serious this situation is and it will hopefully be effective enough to decrease the amount of these suspensions. For a player’s first offense, he will be charged with a six-game suspension.
The NFL claims that they did not see the video until its recent leakage. The Rice-Palmer elevator incident occurred half a year ago, and for many, it is hard to believe that the NFL is just now being aware of this tape. It has even caused a negative reputation on the NFL as far as their certain policies and how they handle various disciplinary actions. Rice’s suspension led to many fans questioning the NFL, and even thought that they were lenient on the running back. The second that the footage was released to the public, it did not take long for the NFL to reconsider their decision on Rice. Coach John Harbaugh was one of the few people that supported Ray Rice and thought he had learned from his mistake. As one of his key players, he supported him and knew he could bounce back. Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens may have supported their go-to running back, but now have to continue on without him as Rice’s horrific footage becomes both a life-changing eye opener and also a career-ender.
Commentary by Tricia Manalansan
Photo Courtesy Keith Allison – Creativecommons License