At first, it was a two-game punishment. But when video emerged of Ray Rice punching his wife in an elevator, it took just 10 hours and 18 minutes for a harsher penalty to take effect: The Baltimore Ravens running back lost his job. That will result in a multimillion-dollar loss for the Ravens; meanwhile, stores, including the NFL's, have dropped his jersey. Police had already said Rice had knocked out his then-fiancee, the Baltimore Sun reports. But the video "changed things," says Ravens coach John Harbaugh. Adds a former ESPN producer: "The optics are so powerful."
Onlookers have plenty of questions for the team and the NFL; TMZ, which aired the elevator video, is claiming that the league willfully turned a blind eye to the video. Among the reactions:
- Reports have refuted that claim, suggesting "a cover-up of Nixonian proportions," writes Robert Silverman at the Daily Beast. "The question will become, 'What did [Commissioner] Roger Goodell know and when did he know it?'" Why didn't the NFL push to see the tape earlier? What we're seeing from the league is "not morality. That’s damage control."
- "The facts alone" are what matter: It shouldn't have taken a second video for the NFL to take real action, writes Juliet Macur at the New York Times. Forget when Goodell saw the clip. "When a man or a woman pushes a spouse down a flight of stairs or takes a frying pan to a lover's head, do we really need to see video evidence to realize that the act was wrong and cruel, or to adequately punish the offender?"
- Calls continue for Roger Goodell to suffer the same fate as Rice himself. "His leadership has no integrity and no longer can be trusted by the public. He should resign," writes Ann Killion at the San Francisco Chronicle.
- There's a longer, clearer version of the video out there, by the way, and the AP saw it. It closes with hotel staff, upon witnessing Rice dragging Janay Palmer from the elevator, saying, "She's drunk, right? … No cops." Rice doesn't respond.
- And the revulsion goes right to the top, reports Politico. Says a White House rep: "The president is the father of two daughters. And like any American, he believes that domestic violence is contemptible and unacceptable in a civilized society. Hitting a woman is not something a real man does, and that’s true whether or not an act of violence happens in the public eye or, far too often, behind closed doors."
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