Mere hours after a new hotel security video emerged on TMZ of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice striking his then-fiancee and now wife, the team terminated his contracted and the NFL suspended him indefinitely. Rice had been serving a two game suspension meted out by the NFL for the attack, which happened in Atlantic City earlier this year. The paltry nature of the suspension generated national outrage.
But let’s be clear about one thing: the video contains no new information about what was already known — that Rice had punched Janay Palmer in a hotel elevator and knocked her out cold. An earlier security video obtained by TMZ showed the aftermath of the attack, which entailed Rice dragging an unconscious Palmer out of the elevator.
Therefore, it’s incumbent upon anyone who cares how the NFL and its teams deal with woman-beaters to ask Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a very important question:
Do you not know what domestic violence looks like?
Because while the video is violent and disturbing, the fact is that it’s exactly what everybody knew what happened. Everybody except for Bisciotti and Goodell, apparently.
Imagine this hypothetical for a moment: Ray Rice is caught stealing thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise from a store. The NFL suspends him while the Ravens keep him on the team. Then, video is leaked that shows Rice in the very act of stealing. Would that suddenly prompt the NFL commissioner or the team owner to reevaluate their decisions and wonder whether they should impose tougher penalties?
Of course not. Because the NFL commissioner and the team owner can imagine what that crime would look like even if they hadn’t seen the video.
Obviously Goodell and Bisciotti know what domestic violence looks like, but the image of Rice punching his fiancee in the face wasn’t able to sufficiently outrage them as to take more serious disciplinary action until video of that very act was released to the public.
This is a face-saving measure on the part of the Ravens and the league and nothing more. Some people want to know whether the NFL and the Ravens had seen this video before, and that are saying if they did, that makes the initial two game suspension even more unforgivable. But the fact is, it’s irrelevant whether they had seen the footage because it simply confirms what everyone already knew: Ray Rice punched Janay so hard he knocked her unconscious.
No one should heap an ounce of praise on the Ravens for cutting Rice or the NFL for indefinitely suspending him because it’s something that should’ve been done back in February when the assault first became known. As disturbing as the footage is, the fact of the matter is that’s what domestic violence look like, whether it’s caught on video or not.