Ray Rice is officially a man without a football team after being terminated by the Baltimore Ravens and put on indefinite suspension by the NFL this afternoon. You can argue that this is pretty much the very best response so far to the release of a startling piece of video that shows Rice knocking out his wife in the elevator of an Atlantic City hotel back in February. But of course the reaction has been coming in steadily and in many cases furiously since this morning, both on social media and within the mainstream press.
My own take, for what it's worth, is that what's happening to Ray Rice today is what likely should've happened back in February. It's unsettling to know that we actually need to see a woman taking a punch to the face that knocks her unconscious in order to admit that it really happened and punish the perpetrator accordingly. Yesterday we knew that Ray Rice had hit his then-fiancee in the face; today we know the same thing, the only difference being that now we've got video of it. If that's really the standard the NFL requires for justice to be done -- when it's finally pushed beyond convenient denial -- then the league is deep in the throes of a very serious moral and ethical crisis. The outcry and action coming now, from images of something we already knew happened, adds just one more layer of awfulness to this already awful toxic stew. Rice should've faced harsh penalties months ago. But people, including Roger Goodell, need to be shocked to their senses sometimes, I guess. Or at least put in a position where they absolutely can no longer ignore a problem.
Given the disturbing nature of the offense the clip captures -- what originally earned Rice little more than a slap on the wrist as punishment -- there are some strong opinions out there. Some are smart and incisive; others are, predictably, just fucking painful. Here's some of the good, bad, and ugly of what the NFL and the rest of us have been hearing today in reaction to the violent video that may finally be ending Ray Rice's pro football career.
Good: Seth Rogen is always at his best when he's pissed off. His response to The Washington Post's Ann Hornaday when she suggested that Judd Apatow's movies might bear some responsibility for the Elliot Rodger shooting rampage -- as well as his dead-on shot at loathsome cable newscreature Nancy Grace -- was a classic example of Twitter being used for good. So maybe it wasn't surprising that Rogen was one of the first celebrities out of the gate this morning giving Rice a verbal beatdown.
Bad: According to TMZ, which released the video this morning, the NFL is claiming that it hadn't seen the full clip when it evaluated the situation and gave Ray Rice nothing more than a two-game suspension for hitting Janay Palmer back in February. But seven months ago sources were saying the NFL did see the video -- and ESPN's Jane McManus today said the NFL had full access to all the evidence the police did when it made its initial decision. So the question is, is the league lying?
There are three possible explanations here. The first is that every single reporter who said the NFL had seen the video was lying. This seems unlikely, since they were all telling the same lie, both for public consumption and in their off-the-record talks with us. The second is that the NFL was lying to all of the top football reporters back then about having seen the video, in some attempt to smear Janay Palmer. The third is that the NFL is lying now about not having seen the video—that league officials saw what everyone has now seen, for whatever reason actually found it exculpatory, and are now making false claims to protect the league's image... Whatever the case, it's almost certain that the NFL lied at some stage here.
Here's ESPN's Adam Schefter addressing the controversy and absolutely destroying the NFL over its mishandling of the Rice situation. He calls it the biggest black eye the league has ever seen.
And Keith Olbermann is voicing a popular sentiment today -- that Roger Goodell has to go.
Better: Former NFL tight end Alex Holmes wants us to consider that whole video angle and the double-edged sword it presents.
Worse: Andrea Tantaros is a total second-stringer at Fox News, which means she has to try harder to stand out. This translates into one spiteful, lunatic comment after another spewing from her big mouth and pea-sized brain, all in the name of getting her bosses to notice her and maybe give her the back-pat she so desperately longs for. Even for Fox she's a mean little turd, but that's because she needs to be.
Given that Tantaros is the same dunce who actually fever-dreamed an Obama impeachment conspiracy theory back in July, it's no surprise she's managed to take the Ray Rice incident and somehow make it once again all about our failure-in-chief.
Here she was today on Outnumbered:
"I wanna know, where is the President on this one? My question is — and not to bring it back to politics but — this is a White House that seems to bring up a 'war on women' every other week. A White House that's very concerned about the NFL, concussions, etc., prescription drugs in locker rooms."
Right. Not to bring it back to politics. With Fox News' politics always amounting to the same angry refrain.
Best: There was some strong reaction from sports figures and NFL players past and present, but no one had the righteous fury of Denver Bronco Terrance Knighton and former league linebacker Scott Fujita.
Worst: There's a reason Fox & Friends is parodied so relentlessly on Saturday Night Live: it's sincerely the dumbest show on cable news. If you're at all aware of the smugly sexist dynamic that seems to be encoded into the show's DNA, it won't surprise you to learn exactly where the debate over the Ray Rice video went this morning.
From The Huffington Post:
"She still married him!" Steve Doocy said of Rice's wife, Janay Palmer.
"Rihanna went back to Chris Brown right after [he assaulted her]," Brian Kilmeade said. "A lot of people thought that was a terrible message."
Doocy compared the video to the elevator incident between Jay Z and Solange. To which Kilmeade then-- you guessed it-- defended Jay Z for not hitting back.
"I think the message is, take the stairs," Kilmeade concluded.
No. That's really not the message.
Doocy then chimed in once more.
"The message is, when you're in an elevator, there's a camera."
Nope. Still not the message.
No, the message is that Doocy and Kilmeade are unapologetic pricks and the show they co-host practically qualifies as a frontal lobotomy.
Speaking of lobotomies, neurosurgeon and Fox News regular Ben Carson was on Newsmax today also trying to spread around the blame for the single punch that knocked a woman unconscious.
“I’m hopeful they will get some help for him,” Carson said, after being asked whether he agreed with the moves today by the team and the league. “I mean, obviously anyone who would do something like that needs some help.”
“And let’s not all jump on the bandwagon of demonizing this guy,” Carson continued. “He obviously has some real problems, and his wife obviously knows that, because she subsequently married him. So they both need some help. So rather than just jumping on a punitive bandwagon, let’s just see if we can get some help for these people.”
Every time Carson opens his mouth it becomes painfully obvious who's really in need of help.