This week, Sports Illustrated focuses on former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, whose punching out of his then-fiancee and now wife in an Atlantic City casino elevator in February ignited a national conversation about domestic violence and the NFL's lenient reaction to it.
That discussion gained fresh force on Monday, when TMZ released a videotape showing Rice knocking his now-wife unconscious with a single punch. Later in the day, the Ravens terminated Rice's contract and the NFL suspended him. Those moves did not stem a growing wave of criticism of the NFL, law enforcement and the Ravens for their handing of the situation.
In his cover story SI senior writer Phil Taylor goes further, saying "the suddenly and appropriately harsh justice underscored after Rice's brutality, the other major problem with this saga: the NFL's tendency to face problems head-on only after they've become threats to its carefully polished public relations machine."
"It was unclear if Goodell and his aides had seen the footage before TMZ posted it," Taylor writes. "If they did, their failure to come down harder on Rice before the clip became an Internet staple is shameful. If they didn’t, the league is guilty at the least of some very lackadaisical investigating. The idea that the Atlantic City police department and TMZ could scoop the NFL’s vaunted security apparatus strains credulity, especially considering the lengths the league seems willing to go to stamp out excessive end zone celebrations and the tiniest infringements of its sponsor-friendly uniform policies."
SI executive editor L. Jon Wertheim wrote about former Ravens cornerback and Rice teammate Chris Johnson, whose sister was murdered by an estranged boyfriend in 2011. Johnson, who addressed the Ravens on the issue in 2012, spoke strongly against Rice and domestic violence after seeing the casino videotape. "I don't have respect for a man who puts his hands on a woman. At all."
For more on Rice, check out this week's Sports Illustrated (subscribe here).
- Scooby Axson