NFL Empire Strikes Back
I didn’t want to add more words to the thousands already written about the Ray Rice elevator video, but a brief conversation led me to reconsider. On one side, was a friend with a battered past and on the other was someone who understood provocation, anger, and manhood. Two sides to the issue, but nothing is ever “right” about abuse.
The media outrage and subsequent NFL ousting of Rice in the midst of a stellar career was just the beginning. Now more NFL players are being spotlighted for domestic abuse issues. Listen to enough talk shows and you sense that the NFL should do more, some suggesting that sponsors pull support from the NFL.
But even if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell resigns, that wouldn’t alter the reality for the three women murdered by their abusers—which happens everyday in America. One in four women will face abuse during their lifetime. And for children living in abusive homes—they are more likely to become abusers or be abused. Domestic violence costs $37 billion annually in medical bills, legal work, law enforcement, and lost productivity. Let our anger be directed at this—not the NFL.
Let’s use the media outrage—but sharpen the focus on the real issue of domestic abuse. The NFL Empire should become advocates for the abused. Commercials could raise awareness and NFL financial resources could be allocated for domestic abuse shelters, counselors, and help for the victims.
What about provocation? Some argue that Janay Rice slapped first—provoking Ray. Her slap should never be the cause of a knockout punch. Throughout my 35+ years with my mate, when we’ve argued, we made a rule to cool off first. Never once has there been any force. Abusive relationships don't obey rules.
Ray Rice’s early years were tough. His dad was an innocent bystander in a drive-by shooting—murdered when Rice was a toddler. When he was ten, the father figure in his world was killed in a car accident. Out of the ashes of pain and struggles, he became a spectacular running back helping his Baltimore Ravens win Super Bowl XLVII. Did the hurt of his past cause him to hurt someone he loved? Perhaps, but it’s still a crime and it changes the way we see Ray Rice.
May this ugly, awful video change us. Similar scenes are happening behind closed doors across America. Let’s help those whose lives will never make the headlines. And let’s encourage the NFL to become the force that strikes back against abuse.
For Domestic Abuse Hotline Call 1-800-799-7233