Let me start off by making it perfectly clear that I think any man who lays a hand on a woman is scum, and deserves everything that comes from it, being loss of job, loss of family, and loss of his livelihood.
Here's what we know:
- Ray Rice was observed standing over his unconscious fiance outside of an Atlantic City casino elevator in the wee hours of the morning on Valentine's Day, 2014. Both Rice and his fiance were later arrested and released.
- Rice was suspended for two games in late July, for violating the NFL's "personal conduct" policy.
In a statment to Rice, Commissioner Roger Goodell said the punishment comes with the expectation that the running back will continue his counceling.
"You will be expected to continue to take advantage of the counseling and other professional services you identified during our meeting," Goodell wrote. "As you noted, this additional assistance has been of significant benefit to you and your wife, and it should remain a part of your practice as appropriate.
"I believe that you are sincere in your desire to learn from this matter and move forward toward a healthy relationship and successful career. I am now focused on your actions and expect you to demonstrate by those actions that you are prepared to fulfill those expectations."
- Additional video surfaced this week from inside of the elevator, showing Rice punching his fiance in the face several times, resulting in the Ravens cutting him from the team, and the NFL to suspend him indefinitely.
- The CFL (that's the Canadian Football League, for my readers in Tucson) said that they would extend the NFL ban to include the CFL.
- Rice also lost all of his endorsement deals, and is being "shunned" by his alma mater.
For all intents and purposes, he's lost not only his only sources of income, but will most certainly lose any future employment related to football (announcer, analyst, coach, etc.).
Rice has nothing to lose if he brings suit against the NFL. He's got no money, no future, and nothing but upside (financially).
Hear me out, and see if this makes sense.
There is no question that the NFL and the Ravens knew Rice struck his fiance. There was video of her lying unconscious outside the elevator, police reports stating there was an assault, and Rice's own admission to the Commissioner. Rice was also indicted by a Grand Jury. Raven's GM Ozzie Newsome even referenced how the video of Rice dragging his unconscious fiance out of the elevator "doesn't look good".
If you saw video of an unconscious woman, a police report showing an arrest and charge of striking his fiance, and a Grand Jury indictment, how in the world did they think the fiance became unconscious?
“My disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment, and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families. I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values,” Goodell wrote. “I didn’t get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will.”
So now we are up to the events of this week. New video surfaces, showing what took place inside the elevator, the attack itself. Rice is seen brutally punching the woman he loves in the face/head, and we see her drop to the floor, unconscious. It's impossible to watch the video, and not be sick to your stomach. The ravens quickly cut Rice, and the NFL followed suit, banning him indefinitely.
Nothing about the facts of the case really changed, except we saw a man brutally beating a woman into unconsciousness, instead of assuming/understanding it happened prior to what we saw on the first video.
Can't Rice make the case that the Ravens and the NFL should have known what had happened inside the elevator, based on the overwhelming amount of evidence in front of them? Does it pass the "reasonable doubt" test, that a jury of his peers would come to the conclusion that Rice beat his fiance in that elevator? If so, why only a two-game suspension initially, and then a indefinite suspension after the new video came out?
Can't Rice make the case that the Commissioner (who freely admitted months ago the he "got it wrong" with the initial ruling) is now trying to cover his own ass by throwing the book at Rice?
In other words, why was a two-game suspension a just penalty in the recent past, but now that the league is embarrassed by the new video, they have to look tough to save the image of the NFL?
I'm no lawyer, but I think Rice brings a suit against the NFL and the Ravens. Again, he has nothing to lose, and millions to gain.
I can see him saying that he came clean on the initial event, sought counseling, and has been a model person since his "mistake". He didn't lie (that we know of) about what happened in that elevator, so why does a video of his actions carry more weight than his own words describing the account?
If I ran a red light, ran over a pedestrian, and dragged him several blocks under my car, and admitted to all of that, should video surface of the event from a nearby surveillance camera be allowed after the fact to change my punishment?
As someone on Twitter recently said, Rice didn't lose his job because the Ravens and NFL saw that video, he lost it because you did. The Public called for his head, and they got it.
(Again, let me be perfectly clear, Rice deserves to lose everything he has lost, as hitting a woman is never justified, I just think the punishment should have happened the first time around - the evidence was there all along, in the form of Rice's statements, the police reports, the indictment, and the outside-the-elevator footage. I'm not defending Rice's actions in any way whatsoever here, merely pointing out the NFL may have opened itself up to a lawsuit from Rice.)
It will be interesting to see what comes out of the Rice camp in the coming weeks. If he does file suit (and I think he will), it will be along the lines of claiming the NFL and Ravens damaged his ability to earn a living. He'll say that he came clean, accepted the punishment, and now has become a scapegoat due to the NFL admittingly botching what they did.
He won't play the "I didn't do it" card, but will say that the NFL and Ravens got embarrassed, and did everything they could to remove the spotlight from them, and turn it back on to Rice.
If he does file suit, I'll bet you he winds up getting paid.
The NFL currently looks either incompetent or a bunch of liars. Either the all-powerful NFL couldn't get its hands on the elevator tape (which is being denied by local law enforcement), or it didn't think to review them. You can bet your bottom dollar that the Rice defense team will jump all over a league that made $6 billion last year, to get their client paid. If the NFL did indeed view the tape, and only game Rice a two-game suspension, they are toast. If they didn't make an attempt to get their hands on a copy, they look like they didn't take the issue of domestic violence and one of their stars very seriously, which also toasts them.
Rice has nothing to lose by filing suit, and everything to gain. The NFL has a whole lot to lose, and very little upside.
Rice will get paid, bank on it.
ESPN is reporting that Rice told the Commissioner that he punched his fiance in the face when they met in June:
Goodell made the statement Tuesday during an interview with CBS News, saying the latest video released by TMZ Sports about the incident was "inconsistent" with what the former Baltimore Ravens running back had told him. But four sources close to Rice say that during the disciplinary meeting in the commissioner's office on June 16, Rice told Goodell he had hit Janay Rice, then his fiancee, in the face inside a Revel Casino Hotel elevator in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and had knocked her unconscious.
"Ray didn't lie to the commissioner," a source with knowledge of the meeting told "Outside the Lines." "He told the full truth to Goodell -- he made it clear he had hit her, and he told Goodell he was sorry and that it wouldn't happen again."
"He told the truth," a second source said. "This is a public lynching of Ray."
A third source with knowledge of Rice's discussion with the commissioner said: "There was no ambiguity about what happened [in the elevator]." A fourth source also confirmed how the information was relayed at the meeting; however, a fifth source with knowledge of the meeting said Rice told Goodell he had "slapped" his fiancee.
The accounts given by the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, contradict Goodell's statement that he did not know precisely what had happened inside the elevator until he watched the TMZ Sports-released videotape on Monday morning. After The Associated Press reported Wednesday that a copy of the in-elevator video was sent by a law enforcement official to an unnamed NFL executive last April, the league announced former FBI chief Robert Mueller would lead an independent inquiry of the Rice matter, overseen by New York Giants owner John Mara and Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney.
Goodell will lose his job, and Ray is going to get a "severance" payment.
The first rule of holes is a simple one - when you find yourself in one, stop digging. Goodell got a bigger shovel:
During the CBS News interview, the network's Norah O'Donnell reminded Goodell that an earlier TMZ Sports-released security camera video, made public last February, showed Rice dragging his fiancee's unconscious body from the elevator.
"We did not know what led up to that," Goodell replied. "We did not know the details of that. We asked for that on several occasions." Goodell has said the league asked for the video from four law enforcement agencies shortly after the incident and again after Rice was accepted into a pre-trial intervention program on May 20.
Besides the first TMZ video and Rice's own account of what happened during the June 16 meeting, Goodell also had access to an Atlantic City Municipal Court complaint, dated Feb. 15, which is public record. The complaint alleges Rice committed "assault by attempting to cause bodily injury to J. Palmer, specifically by striking [her] with [his] hand, rendering her unconscious, at the Revel casino."
My gut is that Goodell is playing loose with the facts - he didn't actually see a punch, so therefore it might not have happened. At the same time, he didn't appear to have asked if a punch (or punches) were thrown, and by not viewing the video, insulates himself from actually having to see it. In a way, he's telling the truth, but being dishonest by not doing everything in his power to try and find out what happened.
Again, Rice didn't get the boot because the NFL saw the tape, he got 86'd because you saw it.
If the NFL investigation shows that Rice was upfront about what he said happened (and it's looking more and more like that is the case), Ray is going to get paid.
The Ravens GM says what Rice told him, and what's on the tape match up:
Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said this week that Rice was truthful about what happened inside the elevator in conversations with he and Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. "You know, Ray had given a story to John and I," Newsome told The Baltimore Sun. "And what we saw on the video was what Ray said. Ray didn't lie to me. He didn't lie to me."
So why lie to the League, but be honest with the team? Rice and his handlers had to know they would compare stories.
Stop digging, Commissioner.