There are few things more disturbing than seeing a man viciously strike a woman.
Ray Rice was suspended by the National Football League indefinitely within hours of TMZ.com posting video of the running back throwing a vicious left hook to his then-fiancee in an elevator at an Atlantic City, N.J., hotel in February.
It was the first time the public had seen the entire video in which Rice struck Janay Palmer so hard that he knocked her out. After the punch, Rice dragged her unconscious body out of the elevator like she was garbage.
The Baltimore Ravens were right to terminate Rice’s contract on Monday, and the NFL’s indefinite suspension was also appropriate, but the league could have stopped this circus months ago by bringing the hammer down early on.
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Rice could have killed his now wife. The fact that he is not behind bars is criminal. This is an embarrassing day for the league, which up until today had only imposed a two-game suspension on the three-time Pro Bowler.
When I was a child, one of my cousins was beaten repeatedly by her husband when he was drunk. He wasn’t a football player. He wasn’t rich. And when he wasn’t drunk, he was a really nice guy. But when he had Schlitz Malt Liquor in his system, he was a violent drunk, and everyone knew it.
He used his wife as a punching bag. I witnessed some of the fights, if you can call them that. Sometimes my cousin fought back, but that only made things worse. Sometimes, she ran to her room and tried to lock the door before he would bust in. I remember even trying to protect her from him.
No matter how many times he said he would never strike her again, his promise always could be broken by a six-pack. Most of my relatives stepped in, but it was hard because she continued to stay.
Sadly, she even blamed herself. One beating in particular left her in the hospital with two broken ribs, a black eye and patches of her hair yanked out. I made her promise me from her hospital bed to leave him. She told me she would, but she continued to stay.
I was done after that. I was scared that eventually he would kill her. Fortunately, he didn’t. Instead, he left her on his own and remarried.
I’ve seen some people comment online that if Palmer could forgive Rices, the public should as well. She married Rice about a month after he knocked her out cold.
Now he is suspended from the league, and although I know we are a country of second chances, from my experience with my cousin, I believe most abusers eventually will abuse again.
The league does not need anyone like Rice representing it.
As for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, he has some explaining to do.
He said the full video of the elevator incident was not made available to him or anyone in his office until Monday. If that’s the case, why would the NFL give Rice a two-game suspension without all the evidence?
Lifetime bans may not be lifetime, and Rice is only 27 — still in his prime for a football player. But when he threw that punch at Palmer, he essentially threw his career away. Let’s just hope he gets the help he needs before he acts without thinking again.
James E. Causey writes for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Readers may send him email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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