In the wake of a disturbing video of RB Ray Rice striking his then-fiancée, now wife, Janay Palmer, released by TMZ on Monday morning, the Baltimore Ravens have engaged in a serious measure of damage control. The team released their running back of six seasons, announcing the transaction via Twitter, and then the NFL subsequently suspended Rice indefinitely, according to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello.
Rice was charged with aggravated assault after the incident, which occurred in an Atlantic City casino in February, but the charges were dropped when Rice agreed to engage in a pre-trial diversion program. It is not known whether the Ravens or the NFL actually saw the video in question. However, the aftershock of Rice's assault on Palmer made the NFL look like fools and the Ravens appear to be completely callous to domestic violence.
Michael Diamondstein, one of Rice's attorneys, said at that time that “On behalf of Ray Rice, we vehemently deny that Mr. Rice committed an aggravated assault. Both Mr. Rice and Miss Palmer are together, they are happy and they’re in counseling.”
At the owners meetings in March, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti told the Baltimore Sun that “Ray will be here."
"This is a singular moment six years after we drafted him. It’s embarrassing for him and his fiancée. It is especially hard to see somebody that is proud of his reputation have to take this kind of public relations hit."
When the Ravens set Rice and Palmer up with a press conference in May, Rice apologized for his role.
"I failed miserably," Rice said. "But I wouldn't call myself a failure cause I'm working myself back up."
Palmer curiously apologized for her role as well, and the Ravens wasted no time jumping on that bit of information.
Janay Rice says she deeply regrets the role that she played the night of the incident. — Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) May 23, 2014
When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Rice for the first two games of the 2014 season, the public outcry was so severe, Goodell eventually backtracked and announced a new domestic violence policy. But Goodell and the league completely screwed this entire process up before that -- when Goodell interviewed Palmer, Rice was in the room, an unconscionable violation of victims' rights.
"Despite our best efforts, we fall short of our goals," Goodell said in his Aug. 28 letter to all 32 teams, announcing the new more severe penalties for such player violations. "We clearly did so in response to a recent incident of domestic violence. We allowed our standards to fall below where they should be and lost an important opportunity to emphasize our strong stance on a critical issue and the effective programs we have in place. My disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment, and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families. I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I didn’t get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will.
"The public response reinforced my belief that the NFL is held to a higher standard, and properly so. Much of the criticism stemmed from a fundamental recognition that the NFL is a leader, that we do stand for important values, and that we can project those values in ways that have a positive impact beyond professional football. We embrace this role and the responsibility that comes with it. We will listen openly, engage our critics constructively, and seek continuous improvement in everything we do."
Neither the Ravens nor the NFL have anywhere to go but up in that regard.