COLUMNS

Quoth the Ravens: "Nevermore"

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
Weekly Citizen Sports Editor Kyle Riviere.

They always say that it's darkest right before the dawn.

If that's true, the NFL is hoping that dawn comes soon because the darkness of last week was downright overwhelming. It was bleak, it was chaotic; it was ugly.

On Monday morning, TMZ released the elevator surveillance video of the altercation between Ray Rice and his now-wife Janay that left her unconscious back in February.

Prior to that video being leaked, there was footage of Rice and his then-fiancée entering the elevator, and then there was a video of him dragging her unconscious body out of the elevator.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell decided to suspend Rice for two games and as expected, there was heavy backlash.

That backlash didn't just intensify, it boiled over on Monday morning as the actual footage of Rice's assault hit the Internet and all of the major news stations.

The video showed the couple having a heated argument that ended visciously when Janay came at Rice. When she reached him, she received a quick strike to the face.

The power of the blow forced her to fall face-first into the rail on the elevator wall--knocking her out unconscious.

As heinous as the punch was, the most despicable action Rice took came after Janay went to the floor.

Rice stood there totally unaffected with not an ounce of concern, remorse or contrition. He simply peered down at her body like nothing ever happened.

When the elevator did get down to the first floor, he scooped her body up and dragged it out like a sack of potatoes instead of the love of his life, the woman he had a child with and was set to marry in two months.

The video enraged and sickened the masses all at the same time as it was plastered all over TV and the Internet.

The video quickly came under more scrutiny than the Zapruder Film. There was so much shock and disgust.

I wasn't shocked by what I saw in the video. It's exactly what I thought happened all those months ago when the first surveillance images came to light.

However, some people just need to see images. Those images shook them up and understandably sparked outrage.

This outrage was in full force until the Ravens finally stepped up and did the right thing. They told Rice "nevermore"as they terminated his contract, and Goodell came in and changed his suspension from two games to an indefinite amount of time.

Rice's career may be over. No team will sign him this year; it's hard seeing any team signing him within the next two seasons.

Even if a team does eventually pick him up, he will have to face an NFL suspension.

Already 28 years old with declining production on the field, you're going to be hard-pressed to find a team that will take a chance on him after being away from the game for years and carrying such horrible baggage.

But now that Rice is gone, many want Goodell to get the axe as well.

His connection to the Rice elevator video has become a bigger scandal than Watergate. Everyone is asking, "Did he see the video before Monday?"

Goodell says he didn't. The AP reported that they sent the video to the NFL in April, but Goodell says he was not told about it.

The National Organization for Women want Goodell to resign; many others want more than that. They want him to be fired.

Maybe I'll be asked to resign by NOW as well, but I don't think Goodell should be booted.

What Rice did was deplorable and inexcusable, and I'm glad he's not in the league right now. With that said, I don't think a lenient punishment is grounds for termination.

I have been very critical of the commissioner in the past, but I think he should be able to keep his job.

Goodell screwed up when he handed down the two-game suspension; he screwed up big time, and he deserved every bit of the criticism he received for that weak ruling.

It appears that after talking to Janay and buying into her story that she instigated the fight and seeing her so apologetic for her husband, he thought just two games would suffice. He was wrong.

Now, if he had never acknowledged his mistakes and kept everything at status quo, then I think the call for his head would be justified.

That's not what happened. He listened to the outrage; he listened loud and clear and immediately realized how badly he handled the situation.

As a result, he penned a letter to all 32 teams taking responsibility and admitting that he had made a mistake and dropped the ball.

To make up for his shortcomings, he got off of his butt and created a new domestic violence initiative.

This new policy creates the most strict stance on domestic violence of any other professional sports league. The first offense calls for a six-game suspension; the second offense will result in permanent banishment.

It's easy to minimize the policy amidst the disturbing Rice video, but it's tremendous progress. It's a great first step in trying to eradicate domestic violence from the league.

The NFL also announced they will enlist three female domestic violence experts as advisors for future incidents.

At the end of the day, it wasn't Goodell acting like a caveman in that elevator; it was Rice.

Yes, Goodell made a plethora of mistakes leading to last week. No, the journey wasn't pretty, but it ended with stringent new domestic violence protocol in the league and an indefinite suspension for Rice.

Whatever happens, if Goodell stays or if he is fired and a new commissioner takes his place, the masses have spoken. They have made a very loud and emphatic statement: they will not tolerate anymore domestic violence.

Whoever has the job, they have to take action because the fans much rather see the league have a black eye rather than the players' wives and girlfriends.