An observation: Watching the Detroit Lions host the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving day was one thing. Then watching the New England Patriots play the Green Bay Packers earlier today was quite another. One was a boring, error-prone game that somebody had to win, and the other a display of NFL teams at their finest with precise execution. A pity either of them had to lose. Minor leagues versus major leagues. Lost in Space versus Star Trek.
At long last, Rice Ray has finally won the appeal of his suspension from the NFL -- and well he should have. Consider what actually happened:
Way back in February, Rice and his then fiance (now wife) had their infamous "elevator incident". In a nutshell, they had been bickering, and once the elevator door closed, she charged him and got knocked out for doing so. Once word got out, Rice would meet with NFL Commish Roger Goodell a full four months later in June. At the time, Goodell slapped him with a 2 game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct code. Seemed fair enough and, most importantly in accordance with the league and union's collective bargaining agreement.
But when the "in-car" elevator video was made public, the doo-doo hit the fan, in large part due to the media exploiting their latest sensational "tragedy". It was shown everywhere, over and over again. Certain people were outraged, and they started pointing fingers at Goodell. They wanted more punishment. Roger was in a pickle. Should he stand by his original ruling or give in to the clamoring, if misguided masses in the name of public relations?
As we all know, he chose the latter and suspended Rice indefinitely from the NFL. This was clearly in violation of the collective bargaining agreement, let alone subjecting a "defendant" to "double jeopardy". You don't get to penalize a guy twice for the same "crime".
At that, in the meantime, the prosecutor had cut a plea bargain with Rice and his case was settled in the legal system. Done. They can not, and will never get another bite at the apple as Goodell chose to take. No court in the land would allow it. But that's where things seemed to get a little tricky regarding the good Commish.
He would later say Rice was not "totally forthcoming" at their original meeting in June, as to what actually transpired on that elevator, and had been unaware of the damning video for all those months.
Well, let's see. The casino obviously had the tape and turned it over to the cops. When cops have such evidence, it's an absolute 100% lock they will pass it along to the prosecutor. So the DA had it from the get-go but was content to quietly settle the matter. And let's remember, the incident happened in New Jersey and Rice was playing for the Baltimore Ravens. It's not like the prosecutor looked the other way because RR was a local football hero.
But it took until some celebrity-tracking outfit way out in Hollywood (DMZ) obtained a copy and made it public before Goodell was aware of it? Let's get real. Given their army of lawyers and investigators, it's hard to believe the Commish and the league wouldn't have known about it -- if they wanted to. And there's the catch. Who to believe?
Janay Rice has recently stated her husband told Goodell everything that happened on that elevator in their initial meeting. Roger has continued to maintain, "Not so", hence the second punishment.
A question: In this day and age, when an employee facing a disciplinary hearing meets with the CEO of his company in his executive office -- what do you think the chances are that conversation will be recorded by the honcho? My guess would be slam dunk. OF COURSE it was. But that tape's likely buried deeper than the Titanic. Either way, Goodell couldn't use it. Even if it backed up his assertions that Rice didn't tell the whole truth -- the union (and another independent prosecutor) would go rightfully berserk if they knew such conversations were recorded. And God help Goodell if the tape proved Ray and Janay right all along -- that he had indeed fessed up in the first place. So the Commish has to stick to his original story and hope for the best. Believe it or don't, but something's fishy here.
So after winning his appeal, Ray Rice is not only free and clear of the legal system, but also the long punishment arm of the NFL. A total free-agent.
Just one problem. Finding a team that will take him. Rumors, likely floated by the Rice camp, say as many as 4 teams have quietly expressed an interest in him.
Though only approaching his 28th birthday, and once a featured running back for the Ravens, plus a consensus All-Pro, the last couple years have seen Rice's stats drop dramatically.
Besides, even if a team can pick him up on the cheap, they'll have their own PR problems selling it to their fans. It's no big secret the NFL and it's constituent teams have been making major headway with the female demographic. Turns out, the ladies are starting to comprehend the Tampa two, double roll-up zones, and the double A-gap blitz at least as well as their significant others. Next thing ya know, they'll be flapping their arms and screaming "Omaha" in the middle of a "close encounter". Scary thought.
But their home team bringing Ray Rice on board with his perceived image could be problematic. Guys wouldn't care. If he can still run, catch passes, and otherwise be effective to help our team, then what's the big deal? All that other junk is in the past.
Yet the former football widows, bless their cooking and cleaning little hearts, would likely see things quite differently these days. Our team signed Ray Rice? The dude that knocked out his fiance? Forget buying tickets -- I'll be picketing the stadium tomorrow with my girlfriends.
How would the typical guy respond to that? My best guess would be unless he likes sleeping on the couch and eating TV dinners, he would nod his head in agreement. Yes dear.
Ray Rice might be a free agent, but couch taters are still under contract to their significant others.
There's a difference.......