One of the main issues involving the national soap opera that can be referred to as the Roger Goodell Ray Rice NFL scandal was a troubling little question that, relatively speaking, received scant attention.
Namely (emphasis in original):
After the video surfaced, the NFL [implied something along the lines that Ray himself gave the impression that he didn’t hit Janay very hard; that they were really scuffling back and forth, and that he hit her with an open hand in response, and she fell and was knocked out].
That is still wrong, and…never excusable. But a two game suspension for such action is not necessarily an outrage, or something that the NFL needed to come out and issue an official public apology for, particularly given all the other mitigating factors – such as Ray’s outstanding record prior to the incident, Janay’s full support, his immediate counseling and cooperation, and the county court system’s election for PreTrial Intervention……
Yet Goodell, in response to public outcry, did in fact issue this very emphatic and public apology.
That question seemed to possibly go to at least part of the heart of this matter, yet has barely even been raised.
A partial answer to it, however, has been realized in an ESPN report on Friday – though the Ravens claim it contains some inaccuracies that it will address nest week after their trip to Cleveland this Sunday. It alleges that several Ravens, including team president Dick Cass (who as one of the links above notes, is one of those who suggested that they were told Rice had not “knocked her out” but had “slapped her” and and she fell and hit her head), had far more intimate knowledge of either the video, or what the video showed, than intimated or claimed. Namely, that Rice hit his fiance directly, and very hard, and in a manner very, very different, from a “slap.”
Yet the ESPN report, along with several earlier reports and interviews, suggests that this information was apparently overshadowed by those in the Ravens’ organization that tried to downplay, disbelieve, or ignore it, and who fully backed Rice for a multitude of factors; not the least of which was that he was almost like a son to several high up in the Ravens organization, a face of the team, had raised millions for children’s charities, and his wife completely defended and supported him over the original incident.
And the ESPN report also suggests that for reasons such as these, the Ravens pressed Goodell to go lightly on Rice.
This makes some sense in terms of helping to explain the NFL’s handling of the matter, in combination with the facts that Goodell also knew that the county prosecutor had reviewed the videotape in detail and had recommended Rice for New Jersey’s Pretrial Intervention program rather than trial; and, that, as is hinted from multiple other sources, Ray’s wife (and fiance at the time of the incident) also staunchly defended Ray, and pressed hard in his defense; and given Ray’s exemplary record, favorable resolution with the court system, immediate counseling and significant evidence of contrition and cooperation since the incident, this was possibly also somewhat respected and taken into consideration. (Or just used as an excuse after the fact. But it is also logical, and consistent.)
All of this explains part of why Goodell may have gone more lightly on Rice than he felt may have been warranted initially – sufficient to issue a public apology and change (strengthen), the league’s domestic violence policy this past August.
But given all the reasonable and considerable mitigating factors, it doesn’t necessarily explain why Goodell actually felt compelled to officially declare that “I didn’t get it right” (unless Goodell simply bows to public pressure and nothing else, which is also problematic) – if in fact in a drunk scuffle, Rice, with an otherwise exemplary record, and with a slap during the semi defensive exchange, wound up inadvertently knocking over a tipsy Janay, who then in turn hit her head. (Or something at least moderately leaning more in that direction than a direct, unquestionable, powerful punch.)
Now there is a far more full explanation, and one that seems to make sense.
If the ESPN report is accurate in this regard, Rice, even if heavily drunk at the time it happened, was fully aware of the incident the very next day, presumably before even having had chance to see elevator footage that had probably not even yet been procured. Per ESPN:
The day after the incident in Atlantic City, Rice met Kyle Jakobe, his personal trainer and one of this closest friends, at Jakobe’s gym, Sweat Performance, in Timonium, Maryland. In Jakobe’s office, Rice wept as he described what happened between him and his future wife. “I’m holding him, he’s crying, he’s devastated.”
Also either way it is likely that Rice, if not, would come to know the details well enough, by being shown the footage by his attorney or another party; and despite wanting to protect himself knowing he had Janay’s support, might have been forthcoming with the NFL about it, either because it was the right thing to do, or because of the simple fact that the video tape existed. Or both.
According to a NYDaily News report just out very early this morning, this is in fact exactly what happened. According to the News, a source alleged that Rice was extremely detailed and accurate in his accounting of the event to Goodell.
And if Rice was extremely forthcoming – as much as it helps explain some of the seemingly all over the board, and somewhat troubled (as opposed to troubling, which it also was) handling of the matter by Goodell – it also suggests that Goodell has not been.
The News may have it wrong. But if not, it helps reconcile the disparity between the intimations of ambiguity about the event by Goodell on the one hand, and the major public apology for the tepid two game suspension by Goodell, even before the video came out, on the other. And in that regard, it is also consistent with the facts that are so far known, and helps to explain them a little better; rather than, as so much in this has before it, simply raise more questions.
And, since mishandling the situation and making “mistakes” of judgment is one thing, while dissembling about it is another, if true, it is also not going to look good at all for the current NFL commissioner:
According to a source who attended the meeting with Rice, Goodell and a cadre of NFL and Ravens officials on June 16 in the NFL’s midtown offices, the running back replayed the scene in the elevator, including the sequence of events that left Palmer unconscious on the floor. Because Rice believed Goodell had already seen the video TMZ eventually released, the source said, Rice was grimly specific in his retelling — a fact that further undermines Goodell’s claims of ignorance.
“Ray owned it from day one,” said one source of Rice’s descriptions of events. “He went in as if (the tape) existed. Everyone knew it existed. He knew if the commissioner hadn’t already seen it, he would see it.'”
The report may not be accurate. But if it is, this story will just keep on going; and calls for Goodell’s removal, which may be starting to look more and likely, will likely only continue, if not grow stronger. And, more reasonably so.