The Punch that Changed the Game

By Michael Otero

By now, everybody and their grandmother have seen the video of Ray Rice throwing the punch seen round the world. Even if you’ve been living under a rock for the last six months, you still have a general idea of what’s going on. If you don’t know, here it goes.

On February 15, Ray Rice, pro-bowl and Super Bowl champion running back, and his then fiancée Janay Palmer, got into an altercation in a casino in Atlantic City, N.J. The original police report filed charges against both Rice and Palmer for simple assault, under the umbrella of domestic violence. The two appeared in court and were released on a summons.

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A few days later on February 19, TMZ Sports published a security video that showed Rice dragging his motionless fiancée out of an elevator. Ray claimed his wife was intoxicated and he was helping her out of the elevator, but that claim turned out to be far from the truth. After seeing the video, the Atlantic County police dropped the charges against Palmer, and Rice was charged with third-degree aggravated assault. As part of a plea deal to get the charges dropped, Ray had to attend counseling for domestic violence.

In the middle of the all the controversy, the two still got married on March 28. Fast forward to July 24, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell made the decision, based on evidence his investigative team gathered on the case, to suspend Rice for a only two games. There was uproar from NFL fans, players and anyone who followed this case about the length of the suspension. Goodell admitted weeks later in an interview, “I didn’t get it right”, when referring to the length and severity of the suspension.

As if it couldn’t get worse for the Rice family and the NFL, TMZ released the video from inside the elevator on September 8, four days before Rice was due to be reinstated by the league. The video from inside the elevator shows Rice and Palmer getting into a verbal altercation that is followed by Rice spitting in her face. He then proceeded to throw a punch and knock his then fiancée out cold.

The Ravens took action immediately after seeing the video from inside the elevator by cutting their longest tenured and arguably best player. The NFL decided to suspend Rice indefinitely after seeing the video “for the first time on September 8”. (There has been controversy surrounding whether or not Roger Goodell and his team saw the video before that date.) “I think he got what was coming to him,” said junior Broadcasting major Richard Renelique. “If you’re going to attack someone who is that close to you, I have questions about your character.”

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The headlines from the recent weeks about the NFL have been dominated by the subject of domestic violence. Rice was just the first case of the 2014 season and the season is just three weeks old. Besides Rice, NFL players Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy, Ray McDonald, and Jonathon Dwyer all had domestic violence charges filed against them, according to Barry Winer’s Bright House Sports Network article entitled, “NFL implementing training and resources against domestic violence,” and have sat out at least one game. The charge with the most arrests among active players in the NFL is DUI, but a very close second is domestic violence, according to Benjamin Morris’ Five Thirty Eight article entitled, “The Rate of Domestic Violence Arrests Among NFL Players.”

The issue of domestic violence has resonated with a lot of people since the Rice case and people have become more aware of it. “I think it’s wrong and horrible that he [Ray] could do that to his fiancée”, said junior Dance major Olivia Platania. “The NFL took proper action by deciding to suspend him indefinitely.” Freshman Psychology major Sean Nicole agreed. “It’s sad what he did to his fiancée, and it’s sad that she could still marry him after the incident.” In midst of all the drama surrounding the situation, Palmer posted on her Instagram saying:

“I woke up this morning feeling like I had a horrible nightmare, feeling like I’m mourning the death of my closest friend. But to have to accept the fact that it’s reality is a nightmare in itself. No one knows the pain that the media & unwanted opinions from the public has caused my family. To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret every day is a horrible thing. To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his ass off for all his life just to gain ratings is horrific. THIS IS OUR LIFE! What don’t you all get? If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all happiness away, you’ve succeeded on so many levels. Just know we will continue to grow & show the world what real love is! Ravensnation we love you!”

From Palmer’s post, you can clearly tell that she still stands behind her husband 100% and is just really looking forward to returning to a normal life. It will be awfully tough for the couple to regain popularity again with the public, if they can at all. One thing is for sure, the Rice case shed a lot of light on a sensitive topic for the NFL and for households across the country. The issue of domestic violence needs to be handled just as seriously as any other legal altercation. It doesn’t matter if you make millions of dollars or play a sport, you should still be held accountable for your actions.

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