It is a lamentable fact of modern American society that professional sports figures are elevated to role models with youth. This is especially so with the evolution of major sports leagues into global marketing colossuses whose merchandising money dwarfs that of revenue generated by the actual“games”. Professional athletes have been embraced as idols going back to the pre-television era and the likes of Babe Ruth, Jim Thorpe and others so living vicariously through them is not a new phenomenon by any stretch of the imagination. Sports however do mirror society and the times in which we live so the dismal character of many pro players are a given. Look at O.J. Simpson aka "the Juice". Was there ever an example of such a turnabout for a transcendent celebrity athlete who was adored and revered until he butchered his wife and got away with it?
2014 has been chock full of examples of fallen stars and one that has drawn more than his share of national media attention is former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice. Rice drew cries of outrage after the release of a security camera video showing him brutally knocking out his then fiancee Janay Palmer in a hotel elevator. The NFL, which has invested a ton of marketing dough into appealing to women – as evidenced by their cynical, pink-festooned annual exploitation of breast cancer – so such an act of domestic violence was a public relations nightmare. The overbearing ass that is NFL commissioner Roger Goodell immediately flew into action to apply the necessary damage control and dropped the hammer on the woman beating thug Rice.
Rice was quickly dumped by the Ravens and became a pariah to the extent that he was removed from the mega-popular Madden 2015 video game. Additional incidents involving domestic violence followed the Rice video and included Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson as well as Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy, both of whom were dealt with harshly by the league. Rice’s fall from grace going from the starting running back of the 2012 Super Bowl champs to a reviled and despised figure wasn’t of Orenthal like proportions but sent shockwaves through the sporting world nonetheless.
Well Ray Rice, domestic abuser, spouse pounder and high profile thug is about to get another chance because he just won his appeal and is eligible for reinstatement. According to a Reuters story, “Former Ravens running back Ray Rice wins appeal, is eligible for NFL”:
Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice has won an appeal of his indefinite suspension for domestic violence and is now eligible to sign with any National Football League team, the league said on Friday.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Rice, 27, in July for two games for punching his then-fiancee Janay Palmer unconscious during an altercation at an Atlantic City, New Jersey, casino in February.
But after elevator security video surfaced in September of Rice's one-punch knockout, the Baltimore Ravens released the three-time Pro Bowler, and his $35 million contract, and the NFL suspended him indefinitely.
The hearing officer in the appeal this month concluded that Rice did not mislead Goodell when he disciplined Rice the first time and therefore the commissioner acted arbitrarily in imposing a second, harsher punishment based on the same incident and known facts.
"I do not doubt that viewing the video in September evoked horror in commissioner Goodell as it did with the public. But this does not change the fact that Rice did not lie or mislead the NFL at the June 16 meeting," former U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Jones said.
Rice said in a statement on Friday that he made "an inexcusable mistake." He said he accepts responsibility and will work to improve himself as a husband while giving back to the community.
With the playoffs rapidly approaching and a high number of running backs having been injured this year it is a near certainty that some team will sign Rice soon. It will not be the Baltimore Ravens though considering the mass public exorcism that culminated in an official team sponsored "Ray Rice jersey exchange" , but when the stakes are high and there is money to be made morality and principle go out the window. That is just the way we roll in America these days in a bizarre land of collapsing values, greed and terminal dumbness where celebrity is by far the most valuable coin of the realm.
Provided that Rice can keep his wife-beating in house and away from those prying security cameras he may even become a role model again with a whole new line of new team apparel on the shelves just in time for Christmas.