In short time, Rice would be indicted for assault, marry his victim, and have the charges dropped due to his agreement to enter into counselling. The Baltimore Ravens would welcome Rice back with open arms, even going so far as to arrange a press conference where, as the Ravens’ official Twitter account gleefully tweeted along, Rice’s victim apologized for the role she played in the incident during which she was knocked unconscious by a punch from a 200 lb. professional football player. Appearing for the first time at a Ravens practice, Rice received a standing ovation from fans.
As for me, my mind was made up. Ray Rice is a scumbag.
Rice got suspended by the NFL for two games. There was a lot of outrage. After rethinking the situation, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to the owners of all 32 NFL teams outlining a new policy whereby a player convicted of domestic assault would receive a suspension of 6 games for a first offence, and a lifetime ban for a second offence.
Last week, in my NFL Season Preview, the first words I have written about the NFL since the Super Bowl, I mentioned Ray Rice twice:
--Ray Rice gets two games for knocking out his fiancé (now wife… Aye carumba!) Screw this allegedly bullshit; everyone knows what he did.
--If I’m being honest though, when I’m watching the Ravens play this season, and Ray Rice touches the ball, a dark part of me will just be hoping to see him get knocked out. Sorry (Not sorry).
All of this happened prior to Monday, September 8. That was the day the TMZ posted the other video, the one from inside the elevator.
All of a sudden, everyone is upset. To the league, to Rice’s coaches and team officials, to players on other teams, to hardcore fans, casual fans, non-fans, everything is different. The Ray Rice story isn’t just sports news now; it’s entertainment news, it’s mainstream news.
Once news broke of the second video, Rice was released from his contract by the Ravens and suspended again, this time indefinitely, on Monday. That’s what happens when you embarrass the league.
So, what exactly is so different? Why all the fresh outrage?
Everything that happened on February 15 and since has been covered by the media all along. Putting aside all the “who did what to whom first” and “what did the NFL know and when did they know it” nonsense, one thing has not changed since the very beginning: Ray Rice punched his fiancé, knocking her unconscious. The NFL and the Ravens have known this since practically the beginning. Ravens’ General Manager Ozzie Newsome has even gone so far as to say, after he saw the second video, that Ray Rice never lied to him about what happened.
So what’s different?
Everybody knew what Ray Rice did, but before Monday, it was all just talk. Now that everyone can see what he did, it’s somehow real.
It was always real, and it was always repulsive. It’s sad that it took Ray Rice punching a woman on video for all of these people to notice and care.
And just one more thing: to anyone who wants to criticize Ray Rice’s victim (I won’t repeat the insults), I say that neither I nor you have any idea what it is like to be this particular abused woman. I’ll just leave it at that.
Steelers at Ravens
Pittsburgh barely survived a late charge by the Cleveland last week. Baltimore’s offence is better than Cleveland’s. Winner: Ravens
Dolphins at Bills
Difficult to gauge how good Miami is based on last week’s performance against New England; the Pats’ offence looked good early, but the OL could not protect Brady against even a four-man rush as the game progressed. Buffalo’s defence played well on the road, forcing turnovers and limiting the Bears to 20 points. I like the Bills’ running attack to be the difference here. Winner: Bills
Jaguars at Washington
The Jags’ jumping out to a 17-0 lead over the Eagles last week might be their season highlight. It’s easy to look like world-beaters when the other team keeps turning the ball over. Barring a disaster, Washington wins easily. Winner: Washington
Cowboys at Titans
One of my Week 1 regrets was not having the guts to go with Jake Locker. Call this a make-up pick if you want, but I still don’t think Dallas is any good. Winner: Titans
Cardinals at Giants
The Cards have a history of stinking it up on the east coast, but until the Giants prove that they can do anything well, I’ll have a difficult time picking them against competent opposition, no matter where the game is played. Winner: Cardinals
Patriots at Vikings
Uh oh, Pats fans: your team looked bad last week, and now they’re going on the road to take on a Minnesota team that looked spectacular, albeit against perhaps the worst team in the league. One of the hallmarks of Bill Belichick’s New England tenure has been his ability to make adjustments from week to week. Last week, the Pats couldn’t protect Brady, couldn’t run the ball, and couldn’t stop the run. That’s a lot of adjustments. Adrian Peterson. Cordarrelle Patterson. Scary. Winner: Vikings
Saints at Browns
Saints’ defence got torched by Matty Ryan and Co. last week, but they’ll get a reprieve against a Cleveland offence that isn’t quite as good (just don’t tell Pittsburgh that). Winner: Saints
Falcons at Bengals
Cincy has a few key guys nicked up on defence, but they should be able to slow Atlanta better than New Orleans did. Winner: Bengals
Lions at Panthers
In terms of quality of opposition, this is a step up for both teams over last week’s opponents. It’s a bigger step up for Detroit, though. (And yeah, that’s another shot at the Giants.) Winner: Panthers
Rams at Buccaneers
No Chris Long for St. Louis. Ouch. Defence is all this team has. I’ve already said this about the Rams’ offence, and I will continue to say it: where are the points coming from? Winner: Buccaneers
Seahawks at Chargers
San Diego lost C Nick Hardwick for the season early in Monday Night’s game against Arizona, and the offence turned in a pedestrian effort for the rest of the contest. Pedestrian doesn’t nearly get it done against Seattle. Winner: Seahawks
Texans at Raiders
If Houston’s defence plays as well as it should, Ryan Fitzpatrick only has to manage the game. Or, in other words, not shit the bed. It’s the Trent Dilfer Principle. Winner: Texans
Jets at Packers
Neither of these teams played particularly well in Week 1. The difference; the Jets played at home against the Raiders, while the Pack played in Seattle. Aaron Rodgers will have to step things up this week while the Green Bay defence continues to try and find its footing. Winner: Packers
Chiefs at Broncos
The 2014 Chiefs seem but a shadow of last season’s team that started 9-0, and now must continue without LB Derrick Johnson and DT Mike DeVito. Denver, fresh from surviving Andrew “Nothing is over until I decide it’s over” Luck, should breeze to victory at home. Winner: Broncos
Bears at 49ers
Chicago looked a bit ragged on offence last week. With their talent and coaching, they should bounce back. The 49ers travelled to Dallas last week. That game started something like this:
Cowboys—Here, take this football.
(Note: San Fran led 21-3 after having run only FOUR offensive plays)
Despite the Cowboys’ largesse, the 49ers still only managed a 28-17 victory. I’m not sold on Colin Kaepernick at all. Winner: Bears
Eagles at Colts
This could be a real shootout. I’d love a shootout. Hard to go against Andrew Luck in a shootout. Winner: Colts