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Has Ray Rice and His Fist Helped Us as a Society?

Updated on October 6, 2014

Domestic Violence


One out of four women are victims of domestic violence. This is an issue that the NFL has had over the last couple weeks and has just now started to receive attention. I’m proposing the idea that maybe it’s a good thing that there was video of Ray Rice hitting his then fiancé, now wife, Janay Palmer. It feels like an absolutely ludicrous thing to say at first considering the content of the videos, but the amount of domestic violence awareness that this has produced is amazing.

With all of this new found awareness, I decided to look at the NFL as a whole to see how many players were arrested for domestic violence. Thankfully, USA Today had done all of the hard work, and compiled a list of every arrest in the NFL since 2000. There have been 773 arrests and of those, 89 were related to domestic violence. Out of those 89 arrests only 13 players were suspended by the NFL for a total of 16 games. (For those of you who don’t pay attention to the NFL, that’s not very many)

Ray Rice with Janay Palmer speaking to the media for the first time since knocking Palmer out in an elevator in Atlantic City.
Ray Rice with Janay Palmer speaking to the media for the first time since knocking Palmer out in an elevator in Atlantic City. | Source

Since the Ray Rice situation, the NFL has changed their policy against domestic violence. There wasn’t a clear policy in place, but now for first time offenders there is a 6 game suspension, and repeat offenders are handed a lifetime ban from the NFL. This seems much more appropriate than the 2 game suspension that Rice was handed, and the controversy that surrounded the punishment is what lead to this new policy.

First Released Video

If you are unfamiliar with what happened with Ray Rice and Janay Palmer, it was without question horrifying. TMZ released a video showing Rice dragging Palmer’s limp body from an elevator in Atlantic City, and what happened in the elevator was left to our imagination. Rice was given his 2 game suspension, and then a second video was released. The video of what happened in the elevator. It shows Rice punching Palmer in the face and knocking her out. After the release of the second video, Rice too was released from the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the NFL.

Second Released Video

If you have seen the videos you know how alarming and terrible they are, but I do believe that this will help not only the NFL, but society as a whole. It shouldn't have taken a video this shocking for us to take these crimes more seriously, but now that it has, we can use this to help promote awareness. It seems like in an age like today where we have access to everything, unless we can actually see it, it doesn't feel like it is real. However, once we do see it we are shocked and horrified at what we have just seen.

What does this mean for the NFL? It should mean that no matter who the player is, star or scrub, he should be punished severely for his actions. We have seen many times in the past where stars get special treatment because they are more important to their team. Rice was a declining talent, with his best days behind him, so it was pretty easy for the Ravens to part ways with him. However, there are still players that have been accused of domestic violence still playing in the NFL, Ray McDonald of the San Francisco 49ers comes to mind. I realize that he has not been charged with anything yet, and they say they want to give him due process, and maybe that’s the way to go, but how bad does that look if he is charged with a domestic violence crime. You allow a man who beat his fiancé to play just to help you win a couple of games. I think we need to look at the bigger picture. It makes the franchise seem like they are not taking domestic violence seriously, and even 49ers legend Jerry Rice calls for the 49ers to deactivate McDonald.

Should the 49ers allow Ray McDonald to play until he has his day in court?

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Is Roger Goodell in hot water?
Is Roger Goodell in hot water?

Let’s reference back to the USA TODAY article again, most of the players didn’t even receive a suspension, in fact only 14% of the arrests resulted in suspension. Now that the policy has changed, every case that comes in now should have a suspension attached to it, which does show growth, but is it enough for the NFL, and specifically Roger Goodell? Many people have been calling for Goodell to resign as the commissioner of the NFL, I don’t know if I’m ready to go that far, but he is definitely on thin ice. I think we need to give him some time to right his wrong, and see how things play out for the next few months. It may also be time for Goodell to look into some of these cases that are still looming around the NFL, such as Ray McDonald, Greg Hardy, and Adrian Peterson. I suspect that Goodell’s future will correlate with how these situations along with any new domestic violence cases are handled.

Should Roger Goodell Resign?

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I made a statement that sounded absurd at the beginning of this article that I believe that through all of this turmoil in the NFL, more good is coming out of it than bad. I think that the added awareness is definitely a great thing and is already taking place. Looking back through the NFL rap sheet provided by USA TODAY, I had only heard of a handful of the 89 cases, but I had heard many of the DUI and drug related cases as players were suspended from the NFL for those much more often than domestic violence. Since the videos of Rice and Palmer came out, I know the names of everyone that has been arrested for domestic violence, as there has been national outrage by it, and should be. Now that I think about it, the idea that all of this is good for America doesn’t sound so ludicrous after all.


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