BOSTON (CBS) — We all like football. Football is fun. Football is great. But when does a society’s love for a sport go too far, and when does it bend the norms so much that the world seems like it’s been turned upside-down?
On Friday afternoon, we all found out.
Ray Rice, who was shown this offseason on video dragging his unconscious wife out of an elevator after allegedly knocking her out days before their wedding, spoke to the media on Friday. Rice and his wife were seated in front of the Ravens’ backdrop, and the Ravens’ official Twitter account was eager to report as many quotes as possible to make a contrite Rice appear to be a sympathetic figure.
“First off, I would like to apologize,” Rice said, per the Twitter account, which added that he apologized to the Ravens organization, his fans, kids, and “everyone who was affected.”
Then, in what was perhaps the worst choice of words ever used by anyone on the planet, Rice said the following:
“I won’t call myself a failure. Failure is not getting knocked down. It’s not getting up.”
Considering there is video of him dragging the lifeless body of Janay Rice out of an elevator after she was knocked down, this was not the best life metaphor to use. But the fact that he believes the world is interested in his own personal recovery is a far more troubling and, frankly, disgusting sentiment.
The Ravens then tweeted a “no relationship is perfect” quote from Rice, as well as a quote from Rice saying he’s still the same guy he’s always been. Then, the Ravens tweeted a photograph of Rice and his wife, before saying that the running back was “getting very emotional when thanking his mom and father-in-law for being there to help him.”
Then, one more quote from Ray — “I’m working my way back up.” Good for you, champ.
And then the Ravens tweeted the worst possible thing the Ravens could have ever tweeted.
“Janay Rice says she deeply regrets the role that she played the night of the incident.”
This is a most disturbing comment, and there is just so much wrong with it.
For one, there is nothing Janay could have done to justify Ray’s actions. Nothing. That’s obvious.
Secondly, the fact that the Ravens decided to send out this comment to 432,000 followers on their official Twitter account is a clear effort from the team to try to clear Ray’s name in the court of public opinion. That’s reprehensible. Consider that the Ravens chose just nine comments to tweet, and the wife apologizing for her “role” in the “incident” was one of them.
What is the message being sent?
I’ll spare you the part where I pretend to be an expert on domestic violence, but victim blaming is a very real problem in society. The Ravens’ tweet seems to be a not-very-subtle suggestion that Rice is not completely to blame for the alleged assault, and that perhaps his wife ought to look in the mirror and reevaluate just what she did to deserve that beating.
It is, truly, horrific.
The Ravens, perhaps after being told that the Twitter account’s reports weren’t exactly being met with support from individuals who have functioning brains, stopped tweeting after the Janay comment. But the damage was done.
Again, we like sports. We know who Ray Rice is because of sports. If Ray Rice were an accountant instead of a running back, we never would have known about what took place on that elevator.
But the fact is we do know who Ray Rice is, and the fact that not only is he going to avoid a trial but now he also has the tacit support of his football team for allegedly assaulting his wife does not make this problem any better. The Ravens, the NFL and the justice system had a real chance to make a point by holding a high-profile athlete accountable for his actions. Instead, it was more of the same — something we’ve grown too accustomed to seeing whenever athletes find themselves in “trouble.”
It’s not surprising, but goodness, it is disappointing.
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