The Bloodied NFL Shield

The season hasn’t exactly gotten off to a roaring start for the National Football League. With the release of the infamous Ray Rice elevator video, questions about whether the NFL properly investigated the Rice incident and treated other domestic violence incidents with the seriousness, concern and respect they deserve, and more recently the disclosures about Adrian Peterson’s treatment of his son, the NFL has been battered by bad news.

And now the unthinkable has happened: advertisers like McDonald’s, Anheuser-Busch, and Visa, that previously lined up and paid through the nose to associate themselves with the NFL’s familiar red, white, and blue shield logo, are expressing concern about the League. Nothing is more certain to get the attention of the marketing-driven, multimillionaire NFL owners than the possible loss of ad revenue.

It’s got to be a shock to the NFL, which for years has enjoyed bulletproof status as the most popular sport in America, with a Commissioner ranked as the most powerful figure in sports. Maybe the NFL had a bit of hubris about its position in American society, or maybe it figured that the advertisers, fans, and Super Bowl viewers who love to watch huge men crashing into each other with bone-jarring violence on Sunday afternoon wouldn’t be too troubled by if some of those huge men occasionally engaged in a little domestic violence on the side.

This time, the NFL figured wrong. For every fan who wears a Ray Rice jersey as a sign of support for a guy who cold-cocked his now-wife in a casino, there are countless others, male and female, who are starting to wonder: who are these guys, really? And, more troubling, what has the NFL done to shield them from the consequences of their actions?

Curse Of The Enablers

Ray Rice’s wife has issued a statement deploring the coverage of his suspension and suggesting that it’s somehow been cooked up to increase ratings.  She’s the woman who was knocked cold in a Las Vegas casino elevator and then dragged out of the elevator by Rice.  When the video of the incident was finally released, Rice was released by his team, the Baltimore Ravens, and then indefinitely suspended by the National Football League.

In her statement on her Instagram account, Janay Rice says:  “No one knows the pain that the media & unwanted options from the public has caused my family. To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret every day is a horrible thing. To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his ass off for all his life just to gain ratings is horrific.”

“THIS IS OUR LIFE! What don’t you all get. If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all happiness away, you’ve succeeded on so many levels. Just know we will continue to grow & show the world what real love is! Ravensnation we love you!”

Sad, isn’t it, that the woman who was the victim would try to excuse the behavior?  She’s apparently an enabler who just can’t recognize the reality of her own situation.  She may decide to stay with a guy who punched her out — some battered women inexplicably do — but she shouldn’t be excusing his conduct or trying to blame his current predicament on others.  When a professional athlete slugs a woman and drags her out of a public elevator, that’s not some private incident, it’s assault and battery.  The NFL has every right to demand that it’s players aren’t thugs and abusers.

Ray Rice has no one to blame for his problems but himself.  His wife, of all people, should recognize that.  It’s very sad that she doesn’t.