Skip to main content

Drama in Sports: The NFL and Ray Rice

October 12, 2014

By now we have all heard of the infamous Ray Rice scandal involving his then fiancée – now wife – Janay Palmer, which was one of the many elevator incidents covering headlines in 2014. This incident in particular peaked public interests because of the discontent over the sports figure’s now-abusive image, and the National Football League’s distasteful decision to “clean up” the mess.

The National Football League (NFL) prides itself on upholding the rules and regulations of how the sport is conducted and its overall impact on the public. However, seven months ago, one of the arguably best running-back’s of the Baltimore Ravens, Ray Rice, became involved in a domestic violence incident that went viral, inevitably carrying the NFL into a highly contested public debate on how it chooses to punish its players. In turn, the debate caused a mass media uproar, and a public relations disaster, in the months following, what has now, expanded into a huge crisis. The NFL is no stranger to scandals involving football players, but this incident has created a downward spiral of negative reports.

After leaving from Revel Hotel Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on February 15, the couple, which seemed angry from the beginning, stepped onto an elevator where the cringe-worthy scene ensued. Ray Rice struck his then fiancée Janay with his fist and caused her to fall unconscious. Both Rice and Palmer were arrested on assault charges following the incident, where Rice’s attorney described the event as a minor physical altercation. Rice was then given only a two game suspension penalty for the assault and involvement in the domestic violence incident.

A video was released shortly after the incident only showing Rice dragging his Ms. Palmer out of the elevator, yet he claimed that nothing took place as far as a major assault.

NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, commented that Rice’s recollection of the events as he disclosed them were “ambiguous” at best.
On May 23, 2014, Rice spoke publicly at a news conference for the first time since the altercation and arrest. With his wife Janay at his side, he apologized for “the situation he and his wife were in.” He expressed his remorse regarding the events released from the video. And the Baltimore Ravens continued to allow Rice on the team as a running back. He was well on his way to redeeming his personal and marital issues through counseling and intervention programs.

But in September, TMZ released the actual footage of the scene, showing Rice punching his wife Janay, where she immediately loses consciousness and falls to the floor of the elevator. Subsequently, the video went viral and overwhelming comments, among social media and television/radio programs, were presenting their opinions of the event.

With the pressure of scrutiny over the newest developments, the NFL made a decision in response to the ongoing controversy. Mr. Goodell told the public that Rice had not revealed the entire count of events prior to TMZ’s release of the elevator security footage. From that point, the Baltimore Ravens made the decision to, practically speaking, terminate Rice’s contract, via indefinite suspension, because he was dishonest about the events that transpired.

The public’s current craves of instant- technology and social media has made many famous altercations, arrests, even simple text conversations, difficult to keep under wrap. The prevalent drama that results from sweeping things under the rug in the sports industry as well as others, only results in costing someone their reputation and character. Hopefully, the NFL, Ray Rice, and other sports figures, can learn from this incident and determine how to rightfully mitigate the intrinsic blow of the media that undoubtedly trails any athlete’s spotlight.