Excuse me if I don’t care about Ray Rice’s vulnerable NFL career. I’m not ready to fast-forward past the Mike Tyson knockout he delivered to the mother of his young daughter.
After all, everyone outside of the NFL offices just got their first real view of the tragic events that took place between Rice and his then fiancée, Janay Palmer, in an elevator seven months ago.
The images of Rice hitting his lover so forcefully that her neck snapped back before slamming her head onto the metal railing inside of an elevator were brutal. But some of the reactions to the violent attack have been equally disturbing and make me wonder if we’ve made any progress at all in our perception of domestic violence.
Two male TV journalists at Fox and Friends thought it was a clever joke to link the Solange Knowles attack on her brother-in-law, Jay-Z, and Ray Rice’s beating of his fiancée.
“I think the message is take the stairs,” Brian Kilmeade said.
Kilmeade’s co-host added, “the message is when you’re in an elevator, there’s a camera.”
Even more perplexing is the female host who sat in-between her male coworkers and laughed along with those crass, tasteless jokes. I wonder if Fox & Friends would find the humor in this situation had Gisele Bundchen been on the receiving end of that punch instead of Janay Palmer.
Of course, we’ll never know the answer to that but I do know it’s been quite an eye-opener to listen to some of the responses – public and private – to the infamous Rice video.
Privately, I’ve had many heated conversations with male friends and family members who are all too ready to frame Rice as a victim of hypocrisy at the hands of the NFL and media. They wanted to know what Rice’s fiancé did to provoke such a response.
These same friends and family members shared similar views about Evelyn Lozada, who was attacked by her ex-husband and former NFL receiver Chad Ochocinco and Rihanna, who was brutally attacked by her ex-boyfriend and R&B star Chris Brown.
They wanted to know, as Stephen A. Smith once called it, the “elements of provocation.”
I find it amazing that these same men watch athletes like Rice get tackled by 400-pound men every week, get called the N-word and everything else under the sun in a football game, but now we’re worried about how much spit a woman can spew a man’s way before he’s justified to lose control.
These men make up a large part of the audience that the NFL caters to on Sundays so it should really come as no surprise that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could be involved in a cover-up.
I believe the Associated Press’ report that the NFL had possession of the Rice tape months ago before they handed him a measly two-game suspension. I also believe Roger Goodell didn’t watch it. Viewing the tape would have forced him to have accountability and no one in the NFL, apparently, wants that.
The NFL won’t find enough pink breast cancer pins next month to cover up the apparent disregard the league has for domestic violence against women.
But that won’t matter as long as a chunk of its core audience cares to talk more about Rice’s second chance in the NFL than whether or not he and his wife are getting the appropriate support to address their personal issues.
That’s all I could think of when I listened to Smith defend Rice’s right to get a second chance in the NFL again on ESPN’s First Take. He argued that Michael Vick got another chance after killing dogs and Donte Stallworth got to play after charges of vehicular manslaughter.
Athletes have done worse things and gotten chances to play football again. Why not Rice?
The argument is a valid one, but it’s much too early to fast-forward and water-down the Rice discussion to his football career right now when there are more important issues that deserve pause like how players can avoid becoming the next Javon Belcher, Rae Carruth or O.J. Simpson.