Cennamology Chief Editor
So, apparently a mult-billion dollar industry like the National Football League did not see the video showing now-former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking out his now-wife in an elevator before Monday, but TMZ did.
At least this is what the NFL would like us to believe - that surveillance footage in an Atlantic City casino ended up in the hands of TMZ before the NFL leadership ever knew about it.
Now, if we were talking about a large corporation here, I might believe it, but the NFL is much more powerful than just any large corporation - it is a cornerstone of American culture. Therefore, the league's excuse that it did not see the elevator surveillance footage until TMZ put it online is something only the most gullible among us would believe.
The media's intense coverage of this story is not so much due to Rice's horrific actions, but more to how the league has poorly handled it. By initially only giving Rice a two game suspension (while testing positive for marijuana, a drug legal in two states, can get a player a four to six game suspension), the league suffered backlash to the point where it rightfully changed its policy towards sanctions for domestic violence.
The NFL represents America's favorite pastime, which is why we should hold the league to high standards when it comes to properly disciplining its players. We expect the league to be truthful to the fans about what its players do, many of whom are hailed as heroes by America's youth. When I was growing up, my hero was former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, and I imagine that there are many kids in Baltimore, Piscataway, and beyond who look up to Rice in the same way that I looked up to Bettis.
That is why this situation is about more than just Ray Rice and his fiancee. Janay Rice has blamed the media by taking away her and her husband's "privacy," but when you or a member of your family plays for an entity as omnipresent as the National Football League, privacy is sadly an opportunity cost.
Less than two years ago, Ray Rice was on the most watched annual program in America. The Super Bowl is more than just a game to decide who wins the Lombardi Trophy - it is an American holiday. Super Bowl Sunday is right up there with Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Thanksgiving in terms of how many people observe it. An organization with an influence so far-reaching that it basically has its own holiday is one that is rightfully held to high standards by Americans.
When the league sees a video (and I am writing this with the assumption that the NFL did see it several months ago, as police are saying) with one of its star players knocking his fiancee unconscious and then dragging her out in such a nonchalant way like a piece of furniture, we expect them to be honest about it with the fans and also to fully sanction the player.
An indefinite ban from the league was a very appropriate punishment for Rice, but it came a little too late - but luckily it came very shortly before Rice was about to end his laughably short two game suspension. Whether this came because of the backlash the league received or because it genuinely believes in the fight to end domestic violence is a question we do not yet have the answer to.
It is very unlikely that TMZ was able to get its hands on the security video before the NFL, so a coverup is more than likely. I really want to believe that the NFL is being honest that it did not see the tape until Monday, but as a logical thinker I find it hard to believe that the police would provide the tape to TMZ before the NFL or the Ravens. The only explanation that I would believe is that the NFL simply would not watch the video even after being made aware of its existence.
Ever since Roger Goddell became commissioner, he has been known as a strict disciplinarian, from the way he handled cases involving Michael Vick, Sean Payton, Ben Roethlisberger, and Aldon Smith, to enforcing stricter penalties for "unclean" tackles and hits in the head. It is unusual why he would all of a sudden have been so lenient on Rice before he allegedly saw this new video.
The decisions he has made with Rice before Monday had gone against what most of the fans expect from an organization with the caliber of the NFL. If it turns out that someone ranked high-up in the league just refused to watch the tape, or worse, saw the tape and did nothing about it, Rice may not be the only person leaving the NFL before the year's end.
When something as big in America as the NFL cannot be trusted, then Americans become more cynical in their everyday lives. When it's football season, we look forward to Sunday. When it's not football season, we look forward to the season kickoff. We root for our favorite teams and favorite players. When one of them screws up as royally as Ray Rice did, we expect the league to set an example.