Ray Rice Is A Victim…Of NFL Culture And Unrealistic Moral Standards

Let me preface everything I say for the next century concerning Ray Rice with this: Yes the scumbag should be out of the NFL for many reasons other than the fact he assaulted his then-fiance. The released video was compelling stuff and he instantly became a PR atrocity for a billion-dollar business that gets the bulk of its money from corporations and family-supported entities.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had an opportunity to right an admitted wrong in giving Ray Rice a light two-game suspension for his egregious elevator antics, and regardless of how the video surfaced or if the NFL initially saw it; to use an NFL analogy, if you give a kicker two shots to hit a game-winning field goal, 99 percent of the time he nails the second one.

San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Ray McDonald was arrested on Aug. 31st for suspicion of domestic violence. He's just another in a long line of NFL players who have beaten wives and girlfriends. Difference is there is no video, so 49ers CEO Jed York can tip toe around the issue and says things like he will let "due process take its course" before deciding whether to discipline McDonald. 

York told San Francisco's KNBR radio that he will not punish McDonald until he sees "evidence that it should be done or before an "entire legal police investigation shows us something."

The beat (no pun intended) goes on and unfortunately, flogging Ray Rice isn't going to change a thing about the violence NFL culture breeds and the billions that are made off these players. 

Pro athletes are like anybody else. If we keep confusing morality with celebritism and wealth (especially when often times it’s the complete opposite), only saints and nuns will be able to play in the NFL in a minute.

There's no “higher standard” of morality when you are dealing with human beings. That thought is a fallacy and an example of how people get caught up in and brainwashed by the illusion of pro sports as anything other than a billion-dollar machine that rolls over and smashes expendable individuals on its path to world dominance.

There’s also no blue print for people on how they express love or deal with rejection, anger or chaos. Their adult actions can also be an indictment on one’s character and are mostly a reflection of that adult’s childhood orientations and upbringing concerning certain issues. Athletes are held to a higher standard than actors, who make three times as much for half the work and half of the backlash when they do something foul, obnoxious or crazy. I mean, pro athletes get judged when they show too much emotion. Isn’t that the most hypocritical and dumbest logic you’ve ever heard? Sports is based purely on emotion, for athletes and fans alike.

The overall tone in this Ray Rice debacle suggests that having fame and money should force a person to become someone else because the money will what…make them have a stronger moral foundation?

If anything the money and power intoxicates and distorts people’s perceptions of themselves and others. Just the adulation heaped upon athletes alone can play upon their self-perceptions.

Sometimes it turns them into conceited a**holes and other times it gives them an unshakeable feeling of not being good enough to meet expectations.

We keep wanting people to change their DNA because they make money running, jumping and smashing into people. How come we don't hold other entertainers to the same moral codes?

Maybe we should reassess how we choose our heroes. The problems that the NFL experiences, particularly with respect to drugs and domestic violence, are common problems in our country. It's no worse because Ray Rice did it. When former Carolina Panthers running back Fred Lane was killed by his wife Deidra Lane (now Deidra Gary) it was terrible. She did a quick murder bid and she’s back on the streets right now, chilling. Actually (comically) last we heard, she was an assistant to Doris Bullock, the former Doris Braswell, who runs the Kiddie Kollege Summer Camp at St. Augustine's University and was convicted of second-degree murder in the 1981 death of her infant child. 

Most people don't even remember what happened to Fred Lane, but it's an event that stays in our minds, especially in light of the violations occuring in the NFL backyard recently.

Around the time she was getting released from Raleigh Correctional Center for Women, former pro QB Steve McNair was shot and killed by his jealous girlfriend. That was horrible and had a longer lasting effect than a vicious right hook in an elevator, which was terrible indeed, but definitely forgivable with time and contrary to what ESPN’s Adam Schefner said, it’s not the “biggest black eye in the history of the NFL.” It’s just the most indefensible crime because it was caught in real time video, twice! 

When Panther’s star wide receiver Rae Carruth hired some dudes to kill his girl and unborn son and they botched the deal, leaving her alive long enough to identify her killer and leaving her son to grow up with severe brain damage, that was the NFL’s lowest moment. The cops caught one of the NFL’s toughest pass-snatchers hiding inside of the trunk of a car. Both moves are vicious, pathetic and cowardly, but it doesn’t get any more evil than Carruth. Truly unforgivable.

I just ask myself where are we going with this Ray Rice situation because you do know an entertainer's pro talent has nothing to do with what type of person they are right? Morality and celebrity don't just go hand-in-hand. Actually its more like a vodka and milk concoction.

We have a media moshpit and crash course of agendas from Ray Rice, his wife, the NFL, TMZ and the Baltimore Ravens, layered with the voices of abused women, angry women, disgusted fathers, shocked daughters and NFL fans. 

He’s not the first NFL guy to act like an animal. They get paid and encouraged to do that. Instead of committing suicide like Junior Seau and Jevon Belcher (who also shot his girlfriend leaving his infant child orphaned), Rice took his anger out on his soon to be wife and in one vivid clip, the world was given a glimpse into the mentality of the NFL player. The aggressiveness, depression and confusion that the drugs and hits and training and killer instincts incite comes to a wicked head in some fashion for all of these guys.

The Ray Rice incident is another indictment on the NFL and more ammunition for a growing number of heads who label the sport of football as outdated, barbaric and too dangerous.

Rice will probably never be let back into the league. He’s on to a next phase in life and together he and his wife will have to carve out a successful path for themselves and climb out of the doldrums of devastation and disaster that, in the words of Janay Rice, they somehow created together. They will also have to deal with a media onslaught that has compounded the situation and rehashed something that they were both hoping to move on from, as she admitted in her instagram statement.

Often times, people who have incredible, even savant talents in one area have some deviant vices, obsessions and are highly flawed in other areas. It's an unrealistic goal for them to be perfect people as well, and the pro leagues know it. That's why we hold morally-solid people in such high esteem, and big business is always either trying to create a hero or rid themselves of a fallen star, black eye. 

In the NFL, the message is (now) keep that stuff under wraps or suffer the gauntlet.

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.