By now you’ve probably seen the Ray Rice video released by TMZ that shows the altercation between the Baltimore Ravens player and his then-fiancee, now wife Janay Palmer.
If you haven’t, here’s what happens: He punches her. He straight up punches her, and it’s hard, and she appears to be knocked out cold before being dragged out of the elevator once the doors open.
Watch if you must:
It comes as no surprise that the tape has significantly changed the conversation around the incident. Where there was once hedging and tepid speculation, there is now pure anger.
Adam Schefter is an occasional ESPN analyst, and he is one of those angry people. On Monday morning, Schefter unloaded about the tape, the NFL, the Baltimore Ravens, and what he calls “arguably the biggest black eye the league has ever had.”
“It comes down to this, if the NFL had seen that video, and suspended Ray Rice two games, it’s an embarrassment of the highest proportion. And if they didn’t see the video before, it’s time to go back and revisit it,” he said during a segment on SportsCenter.
When asked if the league could provide any sort of explanation as to whether they had seen the footage, Schefter was blunt:
“There’s not a lot [that the NFL] can say at this point that is going to undo the wrong that has been done here.”
Until this week, the public, and most sports personalities and experts, had been operating under the assumption that the NFL had seen this portion of the tape. Previously, the only footage we saw was security tape of the moments after. The incident happened in an Atlantic City casino and ended with both Rice and Palmer being arrested for assault.
The scene of Rice dragging an unconscious Palmer was enough for any sane person to assume the worst, but Rice’s paltry two-game suspension and the near-flippant way the NFL and the Baltimore Ravens handled the situation made it seem as if there was some blame to parse out to both parties, and that maybe Rice didn’t all out punch a woman directly in the face and appear to think nothing of it.
But now we know he did. Now everyone knows he did.
Schefter’s commentary, among others, is important because it vindicates, to an extent, the way so many people have been feeling all along: A woman was hurt, an incredibly rich and famous employee of the NFL did an unconscionable thing, and somewhere in between then and now, a grave injustice occurred. After all, the Ravens stood behind him, the league stood behind him, and even Palmer herself sat next to Rice at a press conference addressing the scandal.
It should be noted that Schefter and others in his profession have a personal stake in the matter. Many people, Schefter included, defended the NFL’s decision on the basis that they had seen the tape and knew the truth about the incident. Schefter even publicly questioned whether Rice’s punishment was “lenient enough.”
With the evidence out in the open, the NFL’s defenders end up looking like liars, or worse, like they don’t give a damn about domestic violence.
The good news is: People do give a damn. People are upset. It should be enough when voices across the web and across the country rise up and tell the NFL they’ve handled this situation wrong, that domestic violence is never earned and that watching a player be pandered to after such an act is as sickening as it is unjust. It should be enough when sites like ours publish pieces entitled “The NFL has sidelined women’s safety — again.”
But sometimes it takes the brutal truth, a brutal video, to show people the gravity of the situation. And if people like Shefter aren’t afraid to go on record now saying how wrong it is, perhaps there can be a little bit of hope for this dismal situation.