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NFL’s Response to Ray Rice Domestic Violence

Photo by Flickr user Keith Allison
Photo by Flickr user Keith Allison

Raymell “Ray” Rice, running back for the Baltimore Ravens, was arrested for third-degree aggravated assault on Mar. 27, 2014 for punching his then fiancé, now wife, Janay Rice, in a hotel elevator. However, the National Football League (NFL) only informally penalized Rice with a two-game suspension until the public demanded harsher punishments. On Feb. 19, TMZ posted footage from an elevator security camera of Rice dragging the unconscious Janay Rice, out of an elevator, creating a public outrage. Later, the full video, in which Rice is shown punching Janay to the ground, was leaked to the public and generated an even greater response. Early in his lawsuit, Rice claimed that his wife, was attacking him and that the punch to her face was an act of self-defense. Many people responded to this claim saying that a punch in the face was not equal to any verbal abuse or small pushes Janay may have inflicted. Rice responded in May by taking responsibility for the assault and saying, “I apologize for the situation my wife and I were in.”

Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL, claims the league had not seen the full video of Rice beating his wife and only knew that the Ravens player had dragged his unconscious fiancé out of the elevator. Much of the public doubts that no one in the NFL could access the video when TMZ was able to infer from the first video that Rice had abused his fiancé. On Jul. 24, the NFL chose to suspend Rice for two games before the full-length video was released, at which point they suspended him indefinitely.

The public is outraged not only with Rice’s actions, but also with the way in which the NFL dealt with them. The U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that 25% of women in the United States have experienced domestic violence, a number that many people feel Rice could potentially increase by setting a bad example for children and young adults who might look up to him or think of his relationship as normal.