NGSC Sports

Tone deafness, Violence Against Women and the Ray Rice Presser

The NFL once again showed it’s tone deafness toward violence against women and this time the Ray Rice presser was the culprit. Last Friday was a busy day for me and I had a show Friday night which means I missed the Ray Rice and Janay Palmer Rice press conference which I expected to be a typical “I’m sorry I won’t do it again” media friendly event. Thus, I blissfully did my Friday night show The Extra Point (hosted by this website) and then trotted off for some Friday night fun times.

Upon waking Saturday morning I did my usual catch up on news from overnight. This is where I first learned I could not have been more wrong about my prediction for that presser. Frankly, the Rice press conference news made my head explode. Of course, it was combined with the emerging reports about how Elliot Rodger killed a bunch of people near the University of California, Santa Barbara. His self professed motive was repeated rejection by women.

I have spent several days pondering Rice’s press conference and listening to other people I respect discuss it too. Nothing I have heard moves me away from my original thought on the entire circumstances surrounding it. For the hearing impaired, or if you are so inclined to read it,  here is a link to the transcript. If you want to watch it in it’s full inglorious entirety, you can click below:

My thoughts on the presser underscore what I have long said and that is the NFL is completely blind and tone deaf to the issue of violence against women.

Several things are striking about it. First, this is the coldest and most detached interaction between a newly married couple that I can ever recall viewing. I don’t know they could have gotten further apart if they tried. Further, there is very little interaction between the two. It is certainly not the best picture of marital bliss for newlyweds.

Second, and while many have pointed it out I would be remiss if I did not. Rice’s choice of words leave much to be desired. Let’s start with his apology.

“I apologize for the situation my wife and I were in.”

Well Ray, we are sorry you felt the situation required a response that ended with your then fiance and now wife knocked out cold on an elevator floor. We are also sorry you were inconvenienced by having to drag your unconscious fiance out of the elevator and drop her on the floor of the hall so you could make that phone call.

Missed that event? Here you go:

Then there is this quote from Rice that is so tone deaf it’s mind boggling.

“I won’t call myself a failure. Failure is not getting knocked down. It’s not getting up.”

This choice of words considering he was indicted for the incident where he did in fact knock down Palmer who did not indeed get up makes me wonder if he even realizes the wrong he committed. You could argue it goes far beyond tone deaf but I’m trying to give Rice the benefit of the doubt though he certainly keeps making it increasingly hard.

Rice goes on to apologize to everyone who controls his pocketbook. The Ravens owner, general manager Ozzie Newsome, his head coach John Harbaugh, the NFL, those who hold his endorsement deals, and well everyone but the person who took the the fall for him, figuratively and literally, who was sitting beside him at the press conference.

Not one word of apology came forth to the wife sitting beside him who he had knocked out cold. No mention at all of any contrition he might have toward female fans who might have good reason to consider no longer supporting him. It was all about the men in his life he might have disappointed and by extension the money he might be losing. It was sickening.

If you thought that was the worst of it you were sadly mistaken.

To cap off this nightmare of a press conference Janay Palmer, Rice’s now wife, apologizing for her role in the incident. Wait it gets worse!! The equally tone deaf folks running the Baltimore Ravens official twitter account live tweeted her apology! This is not a joke. Nope, far from a joke it is disgusting.

I don’t know Janay Palmer Rice and therefore have no knowledge of the nature of the relationship between her and Ray. I do have extensive experience with victims of domestic violence. It’s not uncommon for them to apologize to and for their abusers and many come to believe they truly are responsible for their abuse. Many are afraid not to because they fear the repercussions they might face if they do not. Far too often these situations end in tragedy.

I hope Janay Palmer Rice has family and friends around her who will be there for her should she need it.

As for Rice, the Ravens and the NFL in general there is a growing amount of discourse focused on how tone deaf the National Football League is to violence against women particularly by their own. I am proud to be part of that discourse and hope that those who care about this issue continue to speak up and speak out by pointing out the league’s complete and utter failure to address the elephant in the room.

Female fans of football and the NFL in particular deserve better. Roger Goodell has admitted that forty-four percent of the NFL’s fan base is comprised of women. I have news for Roger Goodell. Support for your female fan base needs to go far beyond offering sparkly pink jerseys for them to wear. If you truly care about this part of your growing business enterprise, you need to act like it.

It’s time for the NFL to quit giving lip service to it’s female fans and offer true support that values them as human beings and not just a marketing tool.

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