“When Did You Stop Beating Your Wife?”

Earlier today, the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League (NFL) terminated the contract of their star running back Ray Rice.  This is refreshing news to those of us who were not the biggest fans of NFL’s domestic abuse policy (pre-amendment, which only happened after a substantial public outcry), and who were quite disturbed by the original video that showed Ray Rice dragging his then-fiance-now-wife out of the elevator like our ancestors might have dragged a dead animal out of its cave after bashing it with a large club.  Luckily for us, however, this is the 21st Century, and we get our meat at grocery stores and frown on domestic violence in any shape, form or fashion. Also, we have these neat things called surveillance cameras (practically everywhere) including in elevators, that record every time you pick your nose or adjust yourself:  Pro-Tip – if you do either of those things in an elevator, do it proudly, with confidence; otherwise you look goofy.  So, TMZ released the entire elevator video of the alleged assault, and it’s not pretty.  You can view and judge it for yourself here.  WARNING – the video contains graphic content.

But I digress.  This post is not really so much about Ray Rice, who by all accounts – outside of these charges – has been a pretty model citizen. (Ed. note:  Having watched the video several times, what surprised me was how calm the person who is not a superstar running back in the video was once the woman passed out, especially after he hit her, leading me to believe that this potentially might not have been the first time he has done that – the classic domestic violence abuser is the one without a police record).  That said, what might have transpired between Rice and his now-wife is between the two of them, their counselor/therapist and their attorney.

This post is really more about the hypocrisy of the Baltimore Ravens and the NFL.  When the prosecutor’s office came out with the accusations, the Ravens supported Ray Rice all the way, knowing full well what the allegations entailed:  “The Ravens released a statement that said, ‘“This is part of the due process for Ray. We know there is more to Ray Rice than this one incident.”’ Courtesy of Baltimore Sun.  In fact, here are some additional quotes from Ravens owner Ray Bisciotti, showing support for Rice immediately after his arrest:  “‘This week, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti called Rice’s arrest “embarrassing and disappointing” but vowed to stick by the three-time All-Pro running back.“Ray will be here,” Bisciotti said in an interview with The Baltimore Sun at the NFL owners meetings. “This is a singular moment six years after we drafted him. It’s embarrassing for him and his fiancee. It is especially hard to see somebody that is proud of his reputation have to take this kind of public relations hit.”’ Courtesy of Baltimore Sun.

Kind of surprising statements, given what happened today.  So, what exactly DID happen?  Why did the Ravens owner do such an about-face and released one of his best players while also taking an approximate $25 million haircut?  Well, it’s likely (probably) that the NFL suffered a “PR black eye” when it failed to address the Rice matter in a way that its fans thought was appropriate in the first place.  Somehow the NFL and the Ravens thought that the rest of the tape would never see the light of day, which in itself is maddening and really shows the hubris of the NFL (or maybe they knew it was coming out and just used that to force them to make the decision they were being told should have been made a long time ago…many theories on this).  The public outcry over the original disciplinary action by the NFL was full-throated and was just another negative distraction that the NFL didn’t need.  So, what better way to handle a nasty matter and walk away semi-clean than to have someone else handle it for you, allegedly?  Or it’s entirely possible that the Ravens owner had a change of heart and decided to take a stand……….naaaaah, probably not.

The NFL is trying very, very hard to court female viewers, and it’s succeeding.  Female viewership of recent Super Bowls, for example, was near the 50% mark.  The regular season numbers are not quite the same, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that women are more and more becoming a co-target demographic for the league.  It’s pretty obvious why an uproar over a mishandling of domestic violence could be a major economic issue for the league as it seeks to expand its audience.

What happens now?  Well, Ray Rice is suspended indefinitely from the league, a suspension that he will probably appeal.  He is also without a team, and it’s unclear when another team will be brave/desperate enough to pick him up.  More importantly – and this pains me very much – we should be thankful for TMZ and its (hold on, I have to vomit…ok, I’m back) hacks sleuths for exposing the hypocrisy of this tiny non-profit called the National Football League.  That said, we’ll all likely forget about all of this soon enough and go back to yelling profanities at the tv because our fantasy running back just fumbled for the second time in the game.  Come to think of it, today is Monday, which means only one thing – Monday Night Football.  Don’t forget to set your lineups, dear MOGTers.

~ TheRealThirtyMinuteAbs ~

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Categories: Social Choices

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