Indefinite Suspension from the NFL Sends Right Message
By Rich Bergeron
I’m sure there’s a Canadian Football League team that needs the talents of Former Baltimore Ravens Running Back Ray Rice more than the NFL does right now.
A graphic video of the physical attack on his fiance that led to Rice’s initial two-game suspension surfaced just in time for opening week in the National Football League. Suddenly the raw savagery of the beating became wholly apparent to a wider audience than ever. As the old news saying goes, “If it bleeds, it leads.” The footage of Rice’s unacceptable and despicable behavior became a fixture on the Monday news cycle, and the dominoes fell fast.
More so than any testimonial description could, the video captures a punch thrown by Rice that knocks his fiance (now wife) violently into the wall. She collapses, hitting the elevator railing on the way down. There is also raw footage of Rice acting very strangely as his wife lay unconscious, her legs keeping the elevator doors from closing. He does not seem sorry or concerned or even regretful. He almost seems frustrated to the point where you have to wonder if he thinks it’s her fault she’s lying there.
Aside from his football prowess and genuinely needing an outlet to work past this, the problem is that Ray Rice himself may still not fully appreciate the damage he did that day. He did not just hurt his wife and the mother of his child. His disgusting actions transformed the league’s policy on domestic violence. He brought shame upon his team and the sport when the 24-hour news channels latched onto the outraged response to the paltry two game suspension Rice received after the criminal case went to arbitration.
Rice also hurt countless other women in similar positions who are abused only to see charges get swept under the rug. If the criminal courts will not punish him, the court of public opinion will. It is becoming a cliche in sports when a player makes more money than he can responsibly spend, trouble often comes hand in hand with what they decide to do off the field. The play hard and party harder mentality is starting to catch up with the NFL.
It’s time for him to reflect on his actions by separating himself from everything he loves about football in a manner that forces him to recognize why the move had to be made. It’s time to think about giving Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson a call and ask him how life with the Montreal Alouettes is going and if there’s a roster spot for a running back up there.
Johnson is riding out his NFL exile up north after allegedly headbutting his wife during an argument in August of 2012. It was just months after he signed with the Miami Dolphins. On the way to resolving his court requirements, Johnson even drew the ire of the judge by slapping his attorney on the rear end like he’d just made a great play on the field. He served out his probation and didn’t really pay a heavy criminal price for the alleged abuse.
Johnson was not as lucky as Rice as far as the relationship, though. His wife promptly filed for divorce.