Monday, September 8, 2014

Ray Rice. Beyond the obvious

If you've been living on the planet earth for the last 24 hours, chances are good you've seen the video. But for those that have just returned from the planet Ork to pay homage to the late Robin Williams -- this is what happened.....

On a casino elevator in Atlantic City, his then fiance (now wife) got up in his face and former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocked her flat out cold with a Mike Tyson-esque left hook. Upon seeing the video from inside the elevator, the Ravens immediately terminated Rice's contract and the NFL suspended him indefinitely. All that is pretty much common knowledge at this point and the talking heads are doing what they do. Rehashing the same news over and over and over again.

But here's what they're NOT talking about. There's another dark side to this story.

The original incident occurred way back in February. Over six months ago. Until today, both the Ravens and the NFL have maintained they never saw the video before. It has been reported that Roger Goodell and company requested the video all along, but were denied. So in fairness to Goodell, he acted upon the information he DID have and originally suspended Rice for 2 games.

Is Rice at fault? Absolutely. But there are shadowy others that should share major culpability as well in this fiasco. Namely the cops and prosecutors. Though officially unknown, there's an extremely high probability the cops obtained that video within a day or two of the original incident. Typically, whatever evidence the cops have, the prosecutors get within a few days.

Which basically means both the cops and prosecutors sat on this recently released video for months, refusing to release it. Why it finally came out would seem to be a good question. The better question is -- why would they hold it back for 6 months? By doing so, neither the Ravens nor the NFL knew exactly what had happened in that elevator, which allowed a process flawed at its core to play out for those same 6 months.

Goodell was operating semi-blind, and no way were the Ravens going to dump their star running back without a REALLY good reason. They didn't have one.

Consider --- though originally charged with aggravated felonious assault, the prosecutors were content with letting Rice enter a "diversion" program. No trial, let alone possible jail time. If he kept his nose clean, even THIS incident would have been expunged from his record like it never happened. That agreement is still in effect.

From the Ravens point of view at the time, they certainly had no reason to come down hard on Rice, given the authorities themselves were treating it like a parking ticket.

Of course, the recent video changed all that in a big way. Rice's career as an NFL player might very well be over. Sure, even if his NFL suspension is ever lifted -- no given -- other teams will suffer injuries at the running back positions and be looking around for replacements. Few would doubt Ray Rice, at age 27, remains a Top 10 NFL running back. But can you imagine the bad publicity and outcry from various folks that would come along with any other team signing him? Desperate for a running back, would an NFL GM dare bring in Rice, even if playoff implications were involved? Unknown. That left hook may have sealed the deal on him ever wearing an NFL uniform again. Right or wrong, some things just don't go away.

Naturally, there's always the hypocrisy factor. Former Raven, and one time teammate of Rice, Ray Lewis has come out with a public statement on the matter. He takes it personally. Remember, Lewis himself was once up to his eyeballs in a double murder investigation. Two guys got stabbed to death. Lots of blood. The white suit Lewis was wearing at the time while at the scene of the crime was never found. By attempting to turn state's evidence on his alleged accomplices (who were subsequently acquitted), Lewis walked with only a minor obstruction of justice charge. In the end, the two victims are still quite dead, but nobody was ever convicted of their murders. Lewis went on to be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame and is currently a talking head on football programs himself. But he takes this Rice incident personally. Right, but excuse me for thinking something is wrong with this picture.

Thing is, even given the recent video, the prosecutors can't go back and recharge Rice with a more serious offense. They already cut their slap on the wrist deal with him. Why they would have done so in the first place, when they were aware of the video all along is the question reporters should unmercifully hound them about until ALL the truth comes out. But they won't. They're too busy focusing on the obvious. And in a week or so, if not less, another "big" story will come along, and they'll go chasing the latest scoop. The Rice matter will quickly fade away in their rear view mirror. And the cops and prosecutors that truly obstructed justice for over 6 months will never be held accountable.

Ray Rice is only a football player. He just got banged, at least career-wise. Cops will forever hide behind their blue wall of silence and prosecutors have immunity for their misdeeds.

And the beat goes on, but that doesn't make it right......

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