Washington DC — President of the United States Barack Obama is reportedly shocked by the video showing suspended Baltimore Ravens’ running back, Ray Rice, punching his then fiancée. This was reported by White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on Sunday. McDonough said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he and Obama talked “generally about the situation in the NFL (National Football League),” and “I think we all know that Ray Rice being suspended indefinitely seems to be exactly the right thing.”
Some observers of the game are not satisfied with the idea of stopping at Rice’s suspension. They want NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s head. Sports broadcaster Bryant Gumbel said, “I think that there’s no evidence to suggest that his job is on the line.”
The incident has led to turmoil in some observers’ personal lives. ESPN anchor Hannah Storm closed out an episode of “SportsCenter” with an emotional and candid monologue regarding the National Football League’s reaction to former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and deactivated Minnesota Vikings back Adrian Peterson.
Storm expressed the difficulty she had in discussing the NFL’s actions with her daughter, who is playing her first fantasy football season. “But at breakfast this week, instead of discussing how her team was doing, we watched the Ray Rice video play out again in all its ugliness. I spent this week answering seemly impossible questions about the league’s biggest stars,” a frustrated Storm said while readjusting in her seat. “Why isn’t he (Ray Rice) in jail? Why didn’t he get fired?” her daughter asked as Storm fought back tears on screen.
The NFL is money-driven, Gumbel said, and unless the money stops pouring in, Goodell won’t be going anywhere. Female senators who sent a letter of complaint to Goodell this week should be sending letters to NFL sponsors like Gatorade and Budweiser, Gumbell said. Very little will change in the NFL unless advocates speak the league’s “language,” which is largely in terms of dollars, Gumbell said.
Elsewhere, Rice, who was suspended indefinitely from the league Friday over the surfacing of a video of him punching his fiancée, could have his criminal record wiped clean by next May, documents show. The ex-Ravens running back was charged with aggravated assault in March, but was granted a 12-month pre-trial intervention in May as part of a deal with Atlantic County, New Jersey, prosecutors. As long as he stays out of trouble and meets with a probation officer, his record will be cleared.
The original indictment against Rice says there was “an attempt to cause significant bodily injury” to his then-fiancée Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City casino elevator in February. A complaint brought against Palmer for allegedly hitting Rice in the elevator was dismissed because of “insufficient evidence of criminal conduct.” Since the initial elevator video was leaked publicly, both the NFL and the Ravens have been in a firestorm for their handling of Rice, who was initially suspended for only two games until the more damning footage was released.
Pre-trial intervention is generally reserved for first-time offenders. Rice’s probation under the program is set to expire May 20, 2015. According to New Jersey state law, its rehabilitation model “emphasizes that social, cultural, and economic conditions often result in a defendant’s decision to commit crime.”
Atlantic City Defence Attorney James Leonard Jr, who is not representing Rice, said he doesn’t think the running back got preferential treatment. “The case should have been dismissed,” Leonard said, but “if they feel ‘hey we think this guy is going to respond affirmatively to rehab services’ then a [pre-trial intervention] is a good thing.”
Meanwhile, Rice is not going quietly into his indefinite suspension. Rice will appeal his indefinite suspension on Monday, Pro Football Talk reported. Of course, the larger issue is why the punishment was so lenient to begin with, given the fact that the commissioner knew that Rice had knocked his fiancee unconscious and that the second, more graphic tape had been reportedly delivered to NFL headquarters. The appeal will surely put Goodell and his decisions under the microscope. For that reason, Goodell, who is the ultimate arbiter on these sorts of appeals, will likely need to excuse himself from the proceedings. When several New Orleans Saints appealed the commissioner’s judgment in the bounty scandal, former commissioner Paul Tagliabue stepped in, and ultimately overturned all judgments against the Saints. Such a reversal is unlikely here, but the appeal will shine even more light onto the NFL’s highly criticized decision-making in the Rice case.
NBC News, The Desert Sun, Yahoo! Sports