After the fiasco of TMZ’s release of the Ray Rice video, came even more of a media storm. The NFL is seemingly trying to cover its own tracks depending on who you believe. Janay Rice went to social media to lash out at the media, the public, and the situation itself. The story has shifted from what a bad guy Ray Rice is, to the NFL having a domestic abuse problem overall, and is heading toward someone in the league office getting fired over the video.
Domestic violence is a big problem in this country and apparently the NFL is a good lens to see that through now. Even after Roger Goodell changed the NFL policy for the better to be more harsh, there are still a couple cases involving NFL players and domestic abuse. And I can’t even get into the Adrian Peterson child abuse situation here. The NFL season just began but off the field news is dominating the headlines so far in 2014.
I can’t pretend to know what it is like for Janay Rice at this time or any woman for that matter. She posted a statement on Instagram defending her husband, Ray Rice. She also chastised the media for embarrassing them and not letting them move past that terrible night. She was the victim on that night, getting punched in her face and knocked out. Now I am sure she feels like she is still being victimized by the fall out. And she is in a way. Seeing yourself show up on TMZ night after night can be no fun. Having your husband referred to as a monster on multiple news outlets is not what she bargained for when she decided to marry him. She referred to this situation as a nightmare, and I am sure it is just that for her.
I am all for personal responsibility. I love the idea that we are in charge of our own lives. So if Janay thinks she did the right thing in marrying a man that knocked her head into a handrail with a punch, then that is her choice. I do not own her life. I only own my own life. But the fact that so many women have forgiven their male partners for abuse only to remain an abuse victim many times over is scary. Janay should at least have taken some time before marrying the guy who struck her.
But we see this so many times in pro sports. An athlete does something dumb, usually cheating, and the wife will sit beside the husband at a press conference to show forgiveness and support. While I can appreciate forgiveness and being loyal to one’s spouse, this stuff is often orchestrated by a team of media experts who want to rebuild the athlete’s image asap. We have seen it with Kobe Bryant and his wife and uncountable politicians’ wives, standing by their man.
Most of these other incidents are not about abuse however. That makes a huge difference. Janay is upset that all this has become so public. But what if it had not come out at all? What if she continued to be knocked around by Ray Rice privately for years? It happens all the time if you look at the stats. It is sad to say, but being embarrassed on a national scale and having her husband lose millions of dollars may have been a good thing for this couple. Ray Rice may have never known how badly he screwed up if Janay was the only person who saw and felt his horrific act. He has had his livelihood ripped from him, been embarrassed, and will be the poster child for abusive men for a while to come. If this does not force him to change, I can’t imagine what would.
Dan Le Batard often says that it is tough that people get judged by their worst moments no matter what good they had done previously. Ray Rice had no criminal record prior to this incident and from all reports was a good guy. But one event can and has erased his good guy status. Serial killers are often called, “regular, decent guy”, by their unsuspecting neighbors. Serial killers are clearly not good guys, no matter their appearance to the neighborhood. What they do in private is what makes them monsters. Ray Rice made a very bad choice in a fit of anger. He thought it would remain private. And if it had, he would still have “good guy” status with the world. Unfortunately for Rice, the security guard would not let him just carry off his unconscious wife without investigation and the cameras were his ultimate downfall. Seeing is believing and no matter what good will Ray Rice had built up, most of the world will now only focus on the worst moment of his and Janay’s lives.
Is it possible that Janay and Ray Rice will live happily ever after? It is possible, but she should certainly seek the counsel of women who are specialists when it comes to domestic abuse. She does own her own life and has to make her own choices. I am just not sure that she is fully aware of what those choices could mean for her. If I were friends with Ray Rice and knew him as the good guy, I would hope he got help and was able to have a good relationship with Janay. If Janay was my daughter, I would not want her with him one second after I found out about the abuse. Since most of the public only has the video to go by, they are going to have no sympathy for Ray Rice. That is the hole he has dug for himself. He has made life very difficult for himself and his wife who has chosen to stand by him.