Ray Rice deserves to be slapped around a bit. Maybe with a closed fist. So does every other guy who treats women like Rice treated his girlfriend, Janay Palmer. However, I have three questions. Just go with me on the preliminaries. . . .
On February 15, 2014, Ray Rice punched Janay in the elevator of an Atlantic City casino. Hotel personnel contacted police and police arrived. And charged Rice with “simple assault domestic violence.” Janay Palmer was charged with the same crime. The prosecutor in the case, James McClain, recommended a rehabilitation program (“Pre-Trial Intervention”) which is typically available for first offenders (which Rice was). Superior Court Judge Michael Donio approved the sentence. And Janay Palmer agreed with the sentence. Rice was sentenced and is now undergoing rehabilitation. In late March, Janay became “Mrs. Ray Rice.”
On July 24th, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell met with a host of NFL honchos and Baltimore Ravens’ execs to discuss the incident. As a result of the meeting, Goodell suspended Rice for two games. It was some weeks later that the stuff hit the fan. The media and various groups have demanded that Roger Goodell resign and that Rice be forever banned from football. The clamor as of this posting remains unabated. As a result, the Baltimore Ravens have axed Rice from the team. And Ray Rice is now on the sidelines. Permanently.
So. My three questions are these: If there is a criminal act and police, prosecutors and a judge agree on a punishment for you, me or an NFL player, should that be enough? Or must we be fired from our jobs too? A second question is – should there be an element of forgiveness following punishment? In most states, the object of punishment is rehabilitation. Michael Vick spent time in prison for dog fighting and today is back in the saddle with the New York Jets. Jamal Rice got out of prison (drug dealing) and went on to star with the Cleveland Browns. Scores of other NFL and NBA stars have had major encounters with the law and continue to play – often after a judicially-imposed sentence. Should Ray Rice be banned from football forever or might he be forgiven? The final question is — given the charges brought, the punishments meted out by the Atlantic City justice system, given Janay Palmer’s refusal to testify against her husband and given Ray Rice’s unabashed acknowledgments of guilt, profuse apology and rehab program – why should Roger Goodell face the firing squad?