My first question is did this surprise anyone? I know the violence was shocking, but we had already seen video from outside the elevator which is what started this whole thing, so we already knew something violent had happened. This did potentially contradict maybe what Rice had told the NFL and the Ravens, but maybe not depending on who is saying what, which is where the biggest problem lies for both of those entities. Now people are asking the eternal question, "what did they know and when did they know it."
The NFL is saying that they never saw the video, that the state police wouldn't turn it over. Problem is the state police say that is not true because they didn't have the video, it was with the local police. The NFL has said they had all the information the prosecutor had, which presumably would also include the video. Now if the prosecutor didn't have the video, then we might have criminal action against them, or someone else if they were pressured not to pursue anything against Rice by powers of interest.
The bigger problem with the NFL's story, first is that they have really good investigators and lots of money. Do we honestly believe that TMZ has more power and pull to get this video then the NFL does? Hardly. So then either they saw the video, and did nothing, or they didn't pursue it at all because they wanted to remain willfully ignorant, which for me is just as bad. But, Chris Mortensen of ESPN is saying that he talked with sources inside the league office when this first happened who told him what was on the video and what they told him matched what we saw yesterday. Sports Illustrated is also standing by an earlier story that they the league office had seen the video. That means that someone in the office had to have seen it, and then it doesn't matter if Goodell saw it or not.
Goodell also sent a crony out to defend his original two game suspension of Rice to Mike and Mike on ESPN. During that interview, Adolpho Burch was given two different opportunities to say that they never saw any other video, and he refused to do so, and danced around not being able to talk about what evidence they did or did not have. And the NFL and the Ravens both refused to send anyone to talk with ESPN yesterday or today. They are too busy trying to figure out what to say, but as former PR person, I can say they better come and say something very soon, because at the moment their silence is deafening.
It is very clear that the NFL did not know what to do with this situation. Just as a starter they interviewed Janay Rice about the incident with Ray Rice sitting next to her. What did they expect her to say? This followed the Ravens also running both of them out for a press conference so that both of them could express their remorse, and the Ravens even tweeted out Janay's remorse for her "role" in the situation and it remained on their twitter page until yesterday. Her response is not unusual for a battered woman, if for no other reason then she is trying to protect his income stream, and it's also possible that she was threatened with worse if she didn't. The NFL should have stopped this, should have done something different, and they didn't, and allowing Rice's fiancee to say basically I'm sorry my face got in front of his fist, only exacerbates everything.
As for the Ravens, their treatment of Rice and defense of him should not be surprising. After all this is the team that just unveiled a statue of Ray Lewis, who was accused of murdering of two men following a fight. Lewis plead guilty to obstruction of justice in the case in return for his testimony against the two other defendants. They were later acquitted, but some of that is undoubtedly because some evidence was destroyed and they initially lied to the police (which is what Lewis plead guilty to). And yet in the midst of this, the Ravens defended and protected Lewis. (As an aside, last night Lewis was interviewed and he said you can't compare his story with that of Rice, to which I said, "absolutely, in your case two people ended up dead.") Lewis has long maintained his innocence and said he would like those guilty to be caught, which may be true, but if he hadn't lied to start maybe the police would have been able to solve the case.
I really hope that this might be a watershed for domestic abuse. That the league might begin to take this seriously, as they now have a video to go with the idea, and video matters. There is a reason why we still travel by boat, but we don't by blimp, and that is because we have video of the Hindenburg burning up, even though few people comparatively were killed, but we don't have a video of the Titanic or Lusitania sinking. Does this put a face to domestic violence? I hope so, and yet also have great concerns for the victim in this incidence.
Janay has put out a statement in opposition to the release of the video, which is understandable because it victimizes her again, because now we all can see what happened. She also defends her husband once again, which is also understandable because they have now lost their source of income, and it really makes me worry for her safety. Is Rice going to blame her for all this and attack again? Quite possibly.
Here is the long and short of it. Roger Goodell has to go. The owners have to remove him, because I don't think this is going to go away, first of all. Second, he has lost his moral authority, because either he saw the video and did nothing, or he chose not to go out and see the video so that he could do nothing. Either way he has to go, as does the GM of the Ravens, at the very least. The fact that ESPN ran Keith Olbermann's commentary saying the same thing twice in the space of 30 minutes on Sportscenter last night (and perhaps more, I turned it off) says that this is going to be a rising clamor, and the NFL better pay attention this time, because the bottom line really is at stake.
Many of the commentators on ESPN talked about being fathers and what would they do if this was their daughter. We talked with our daughters again last night to never stay with anyone who hits them, regardless of what they say, that they are to leave, and we have told them all this before, and will continue to tell them as they get older and approaching dating. But it's not just about the girls and women, it's also about the boys and the men. This should not rest entirely on our women to stop. So dads, tell your sons that it is not okay to hit women (nor is it okay to hit men either), tell them what will happen if they do, and set the example to them by not hitting any women as well.
Finally, we have been talking about forgiveness the past few weeks in worship. But let me reiterate again, forgiveness does not meaning condoning actions or enabling actions and it does not mean reconciliation. No one has the right to hurt you or abuse you. If you are being abused, you need to get out. You can forgive later, but for now protect yourself.
If you need, please call the national domestic abuse hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
Here is the United Methodist statement on Family Violence and Abuse:
"We recognize that family violence and abuse in all its forms -- verbal, psychological, physical, sexual -- is detrimental to the covenant of the human community. We encourage the church to provide a safe environment, counsel, and support to the victim. While we deplore the actions of the abuser, we affirm that person to be in need of God's redeeming love."