My Thoughts on the Ray Rice and Roger Goodell Soap Opera


1.  Ray Rice ran afoul of the law and common decency when, in the context of an argument with his fiance, he knocked her out. 

2.  This conduct is unacceptable and requires punishment.

3. The fact that the event was captured on video should not be blown out of proportion in terms of violence or punishment.  The violence of a particular act is defined by the act, and not whether it is captured on video.  The video just makes us bystanders.

4.  Even the first publicly released video left no doubt that the fiance was knocked out, and that requires a significant amount of force so the ferocity of the actual punch, while uncomfortable to watch, should surprise no one.

5.  The video clearly shows the fiance in an aggitated state, and advancing on Rice prior to the blow.  That said, she did not pose a threat to Rice’s safety, and he would have been better served absorbing at worst a Jay-Z-style elevator beat down.

6.  Domestic violence while unacceptable is not as black and white as many would like it to be.  It is complicated.  Rice is now married to his then fiance, and they appear intent on making a life together.  Her lack of cooperation with law enforcement contributed significantly to his acceptance into a pre-trial diversion program.   The cooperation of the victim is an enormous factor in the prosecution of domestic violence cases, and their a multitude of reasons a victim may choose to withdraw their cooperation with the prosecutor: fear, insecurity, financial considerations, family considerations, and even guilt of provocation.

7.  Domestic violence is a societal issue, not a football issue.  Criminal conduct is best handled by the judiciary, who has laws and means to prosecute and punish crime.  Pressure, external or internal, should not overwhelm the League to do something beyond the reach of society as a whole.

8. That said, it is total bullshit for the NFL to claim they did not have both videos at the time Rice was suspended for two games, and in the unlikely event they did not have both videos, it was the result of an unacceptable degree of negligence/incompetence in their investigation of this matter.

8.  The two game suspension was too light in the context of the league’s suspensions for drug use.

9.  The league was right in revisiting and revising suspensions for domestic violence, and the 6 games for a first offense and a ban subject to review after one year are contextually appropriate.

10.  The league is wrong in retroactively revisiting the Rice suspension on the basis of evidence it had or should have had at the time of the initial suspension. 

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