Diane Dimond: The NFL just doesn’t get it
By Diane Dimond
The statistics are easy to find. One in every 3 women in the United States will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
It is the leading cause of injury to women — more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined. Every single day in America women are murdered by their “loving” husbands or boyfriends. And, studies report that up to 10 million children are eyewitnesses to the brutality every year.
Anyone with half a brain knows domestic violence is a big, under-reported problem in the United States. So, why didn’t it dawn on executives at the NFL or the Baltimore Ravens that running back Ray Rice could be a domestic abuser?
When they watched the first video of Rice, 27, and his then-girlfriend, Janay Parker, 26, going into an empty casino elevator and seconds later emerging on a lower floor with Rice manhandling Janay’s limp body, what did they think might have happened?
Did Ray Rice’s bosses think a tipsy Janay simply tripped and fell as the elevator descended? If they did, that’s just nonsense.
Rice was clearly seen dragging his unconscious fiancee off the elevator, dropping her face first to the floor, giving her legs a kick as he tried to get them past the elevator threshold and might have, as some reports indicated, actually spit on her. By the way, this occurred last Valentine’s Day weekend, and the initial police report specifically stated that Rice had assaulted his sweetheart with his hand, “rendering her unconscious.”
So, after seeing the disgusting display and reading the police report, the league tells the five-year, $35 million player that he’s suspended from playing in the first two regular season games. Big deal. Rice was also fined $500,000, as if money could erase the deed.
It took NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell about a month to hear the howls of protest from victim advocates. Going forward, he then announced, all first-time domestic abuse violations would be met with a six-game suspension. He didn’t mention what would happen if one of his prized athletes went to jail for the offense.
The NFL has an official intervention policy for athletes who take illegal drugs, but up until now no official response to team members who beat the crap out of a girlfriend. Something is off-kilter there.
Domestic abuse exists because we let it. We, collectively, fail to adequately shame and punish the perpetrator. Too many people focus on why the victim didn’t pack up and leave after the first attack instead of asking the common-sense question: What is wrong with him?! (For the record: Domestic abuse can also happen to males, but it occurs at a vastly less frequent rate.)
As we all know, it took a second, much more graphic videotape to surface — one from inside the elevator that captured the moment Janay was dealt a left hook so vicious that it knocked her unconscious — before Goodell announced Rice would be “suspended indefinitely.” Only then did the Ravens terminate Rice’s contract.
Apparently Goodell, the father of twin daughters, couldn’t imagine there had been a domestic assault. He had to actually see the 5-foot-8-inch, 206-pound Rice decking his soon-to-be bride and treating her like a gym bag full of dirty clothes before taking definitive action.
As I write this, the NFL’s credibility has taken another blow as opposing versions have surfaced about when league officials first saw the knockout video. The Associated Press reports the football big wigs received a copy back in April. Goodell denies that and says he first saw it when the TMZ website posted it as an exclusive on Sept. 8.
That’s beside the point, in my opinion. No one should have needed to see the pathetic sight of Janay Palmer-Rice being brutalized and struggling for consciousness before condemning the man who put her in that position.
Having said all that, let’s remember it wasn’t the NFL or Goodell or the Ravens that slammed a fist into the face of a young woman. It was Ray Rice. And it is his new wife who refuses to see herself as a victim.
It’s a dynamic that plays out every day in countless intimate relationships. Someone gets horribly hurt but still clings to the abuser. Healing that kind of tortured psychological mindset is what we should focus upon because many times someone gets killed.