Per the NFL, Ray Rice’s only crime was getting caught on tape

Speaking as someone who experienced domestic violence first hand, I concur with John’s decision to post the animated gifs and video footage to Jon Green’s earlier story about the NFL’s inaction regarding former Baltimore Raven’s star Ray Rice knocking his girlfriend unconscious, on tape.

One of the reasons abuse and violence happens and is allowed to continue to happen is because people don’t see it happening in front of them.

“He hit her. He punched her. He dragged her unconscious from the elevator and then acted like it was no big thing.”

These are descriptive but ultimately abstract statements. People will analyze them in a subjective way. Most people haven’t actually witnessed such things happening, and so in nearly every case the mental image they’ll come up with won’t be nearly as bad as the reality.

Video of Ray Rice apparently spitting on his fiancée right before getting on an elevator with her and knocking her unconscious. If the motion stops, you can refresh the page to restart it.

Video of Ray Rice apparently spitting on his fiancée right before getting on an elevator with her and knocking her unconscious. If the motion stops, you can refresh the page to restart it.

The video… well, it doesn’t lie. Ray Rice and his fiancée are having an argument. And yes, the clearer video before they got onto the elevator does appear to show Rice spitting on her (or some similar motion), and she responded with a rather lame backhand slap.

In the elevator, he shoves Janay a few times. I and several others think it shows him spitting on her a second time, she pushes back, then he appears to slap her face. She then puts her hand up to protect herself.

Ray Rice appears to spit on his fiancée a second time, then appears to hit her for the first time. If the motion stops, you can refresh the page to restart it.

Ray Rice appears to spit on his fiancée a second time, then appears to hit her for the first time. If the motion stops, you can refresh the page to restart it.

She then comes towards him, and he decks her with a punch so hard her head appears to bounce hard off a metal railing in the elevator.

And then — this is the part that gets me — he spends the next several seconds just standing there, waiting for the elevator to stop. Doesn’t bend down to check on her, doesn’t show the least concern that she’s unconscious. And then when the doors open, as John remarked, Ray Rice dragged her out like a rag doll, not caring that her dress was hiked up, drops her on the hard tile floor (even though she’s just had a head injury) and even at one point shoving her leg to one side with the toe of his shoe.

First, he knocks her out.


Then he does nothing, initially. Finally he bends down to pick her still-unconscious body up, like a rag doll. He doesn’t check her vitals. He doesn’t loving touch her face to see if she’s okay. He just picks her up, as if this kind of thing happens all the time.


Then, he appears to change his mind and drops her on the ground. Note her head landing on the right side of the frame, not guided by his hand — she simply appears to have been dropped.


Next comes the rag doll drag and kick. Note the little kick he gives her at the end, after he picks up her shoe:


And then, after the kick, check how many times he bends down to see if she’s all right. Zero.

Video of Ray Rice apparently spitting on his fiancée right before getting on an elevator with her and knocking her unconscious. If the motion stops, you can refresh the page to restart it.

Video of Ray Rice apparently spitting on his fiancée right before getting on an elevator with her and knocking her unconscious. If the motion stops, you can refresh the page to restart it.

The important thing as we’ve learned isn’t that Ray Rice was accused of assaulting his fiancée (now his wife, and about-to-be-statistic). It didn’t matter that there was incontrovertible proof the assault happened. The NFL and the Ravens didn’t particularly care about more than a token gesture — a suspension shorter than if he’d been caught smoking grass — until the video came out and Rice (in their eyes) committed the far more serious offense of embarrassing the league. According to NFL standards, if you want to beat your girlfriend, fiancée, or wife, sure go right ahead, it’s no big deal — just don’t be SEEN doing it, and most of all don’t be videotaped doing it. Or then, we gotta let you go.

So yeah — this stuff needs to be seen. It needs to be experienced and witnessed, or else people will continue to talk themselves into believing “he assaulted her” or “he punched her” can’t possibly be as bad as some might describe it. Once you see the spitting, and the punches, and then see Janay’s head bouncing off the railing, and Rice’s apparently indifference and disdain for her condition — you can’t unsee it. And no one should.

Published professional writer and poet, Becca had a three decade career in technical writing and consulting before selling off most of her possessions in 2006 to go live at an ashram in India for 3 years. She loves literature (especially science fiction), technology and science, progressive politics, cool electronic gadgets, and perfecting Hatch green chile recipes. Fortunately for this last, Becca and her wife currently live in New Mexico. @BeccaMorn

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  • Duke Woolworth

    Remember the 11th commandment: Thou shalt not get caught doing the other ten.

  • Standards mature but apparently trolls do not. Reverse
    Your Diabetes

  • FLL

    The law enforcement official sent the video on DVD to an NFL executive in April, including his contact information. Certainly the name of the NFL executive will come out in the investigation. There is even an audio of the phone conversation between the woman at the NFL office and the law enforcement agent confirming that the NFL office received the DVD, with the female office worker stating that “it’s terrible,” indicating that she watched the video herself. As for Goodell’s claim that he hadn’t seen the video until TMZ released it, a U.S. senator summarized the situation nicely:

    Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said after the law enforcement official’s account that the news suggested a “burgeoning, insurmountable credibility gap” in Goodell’s statements.

  • Badgerite

    I can’t say I understand why there were not charges filed here. This was so blatant. Why is this ‘OK’ just because he did it to his domestic partner?

  • TheOriginalLiz

    Given the nature of football, I don’t know how anyone can be surprised by this at all. Someone who makes a career of ritualized violence being a violent person? Perhaps not all the individuals involved in the NFL are inclined towards violence as a way of dealing with everyday issues, but I suspect a higher percentage than found in the general population are so inclined.

  • Most of our team sports are nothing more than ritualized warfare. (I’m reminded of accounts I’ve read of ball games in ancient Mesoamerica, which could really turn into mortal combat.) Football is probably the least ritualized and the most violent.

    So 1) what kind of person do you think wants to play football? and

    2) what kind of person do you think is likely to be a fan (although from some of the news stories, rugby fans are even worse)?

    That said, I think you have to differentiate between the players in the NFL, who are not all, or even nearly all, “thugs,” and the management, who are businessmen ruled by the bottom line. And from what we’ve seen of the shenanigans of the 1%, any sense of morality they might have is largely theoretical.

    Rice is just an overgrown adolescent with anger issues. No one in the NFL has any interest in fixing that.

  • Indigo

    Standards mature but apparently trolls do not.

  • Indigo

    Your comments sound dangerously like an expression of the Stockholm Syndrome.

  • mirror

    I’m fascinated that you even find it plausible that near 50% of NFL players are wife beaters or animal torturers.

    I think this is what the owners want fans to believe, so it gets them off the hook for their poor standards.

  • mirror

    This level of domestic violence was once a common accepted occurrence in working class American life. Are you saying that working class Americans of 100 years ago were ALL thugs?

  • There is zero excuse for brutalizing another. Zero. The physical abuse was shameful. The mental abuse we do not see is just as damaging. What will it take to finally leave this moron? Only she can answer that. Is it the money? I am sure that will be stated by someone. Is it that she has been so terrorized that she fears to leave? Very possible. Or she could believe that she can change him. Whatever the outcome , I believe that such a show of violence was not the first or the only. Nor will it be the last.

  • judybrowni

    I’m sure that not all the NFL players are thugs who beat their wives, or abuse animals.

    Probably, no more than a minority.

    Let’s not tar everyone with the same brush — that lessens personal responsibility.

    As for the NFL owners, they may be a different story

  • judybrowni

    My bet: he’s already blaming her.
    But maybe not with his fists, just yet.

  • The_Fixer

    Well, that would give him 6-8 months until he goes on the “Remorse Tour”, visiting talk and sports shows to apologize for what he’s done. Because in this day and age, you need to do that remorse tour to stage a comeback.

    However, I have to also say that I’m putting my money on Becca’s scenario; he’ll likely do it again. How long before his Ms. Rice discovers that there’s no violence-free future with him is an open question. At some point (probably when she leaves his sorry ass or another incident occurs and becomes another viral video), he’ll be off for counseling, etc.

    This ain’t over yet, as horrible as this whole episode has been.

  • Maybe, maybe not. It depends on whether Rice keeps out of trouble with the law. The thing is, he lost something of huge value to him, his Ravens contract. He’s experiencing ongoing public humiliation, as well as a whole lot of anger and indignation directed towards him.

    How long before he starts telling himself that all his current troubles can be blamed on his new wife, Janay? That it was her fault for setting him off.

    Naja Pallida makes an interesting point with the Michael Vick comparison, but there’s an important difference. Vick lost his dog-fighting farm; the opportunity to continue committing the crime was taken from him. Rice, on the other hand, is living with his.

    While I do think it’s entirely possible Rice would be re-hired, I think the odds are far more likely that he’ll beat her again. Perpetrators of domestic violence don’t just stop. They pause, then resume.

  • That’s exactly how they treated Michael Vick – not to conflate their crimes. But as soon as the level of public disgust abated, he was right back in it. And despite a minor rekindling of outrage, football fans welcomed him back with open wallets.

  • BlueIdaho

    I am taking bets that Rice will be back on an NFL team by this time next year, if not sooner. Of course the league has to let all the uproar die down, but hey it’s no big deal. Rice means money to a team and we all know that the NFL are money whores.

  • Indigo

    He’s a thug. It’s that simple. But then, in the NFL, that is apparently what sells. Having realized that, how should we think of the whole NFL if not as a troop of complicit thugs?

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