The actual elevator video was going to come out. It was inevitable.
There aren't any excuses to make at this point. There's no hiding behind the lack of an image to justify Ray Rice as a member of the Baltimore Ravens football team. What happened speaks for itself. It is what it is.
What Rice is seen doing on video is deplorable. And for as bad as it is, the Ravens' stance on Rice has been just as bad, if not worse. Now, when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell handed down his two-game suspension to Rice, it was met with a serious backlash from media and fans alike. However, the NFL is now claiming it never saw the video after it was requested.
"We requested from law enforcement any and all information about the incident, including the video from inside the elevator," the league said in a statement. "That video was not made available to us. And no one in our office has seen it until today."
It's up to each individual to believe whether the NFL is being forthright and honest on this. If TMZ can get a hold of this video, surely the NFL can. And even the Baltimore Ravens. Shoot, Kevin Byrne wrote a column titled, "I Like Ray Rice," defending the man after admitting to team officials what happened that night. Say he nor anyone in the Ravens' organization saw this video. Then why defend someone profusely without having all of the information available?
And according to CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora, Rice didn't "sugarcoat" what happened to the team.
Ravens officials had not seen this Rice video prior to today but he had described actions in detail. Didn't "sugarcoat" it source said...— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) September 8, 2014
So while the actual footage today was new to the Ravens visually, the description Rice gave them was in line with what the video displayed— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) September 8, 2014
Let's separate football from the real world for a moment. We, as regular human beings, look to the NFL to provide us with entertainment, first and foremost. We also choose teams, usually based on the cities we grow up in, as another means to feel pride about where we're from. Part of that pride involves having people playing for that team that represent, at the barest of minimums, the values we all like to incorporate in our daily lives.
Fans of the other 31 teams will rightfully condemn what's seen on this video. And they'll rightfully condemn the Ravens for choosing the financial decision over the moral decision. Most Ravens fans I've interacted with or spoken to have condemned it too. Some have defended him, perhaps holding out hope that what happened in that elevator wasn't as bad as it had been made out to be.
No one can defend Rice or the Ravens today. And if you try, you'll look incredibly stupid.
Given the financial status of Rice's 2012 contract, the Ravens may have felt the ramifications of fielding a competitive team in 2014 would be tough without Rice on the roster. Here's the breakdown of Rice's cap situation, courtesy of Russell Street Report's Brian MacFarland:
Ravens can seek $750K of Rice's bonus 4 suspension & should. "Good guy" or not, this is a terrible reflection on org (they haven't helped)— Brian McFarland (@RavensSalaryCap) September 8, 2014
Releasing Rice would save $3.529M against 2014 Cap. Could be carried over into 2015 to offset $9.5M of dead money caused by release. Ugly.— Brian McFarland (@RavensSalaryCap) September 8, 2014
Considering everything that's been reported about this incident is 100 percent true now that the video is out, the Ravens have seemingly been OK with continuing to employ someone that thought it would be OK to punch his wife in the face. They chose money over morals.
Rice can say in front of a camera that this is the only time it's happened. It may have been. But can you trust him when he says that?
Sure, Rice has done a lot of community work around town, specifically with anti-bullying outreach. But when you see something like this, you have to ask yourself one question.
Did the city of Baltimore actually know the real Ray Rice?
The old saying, "better late than never" applies 100 percent in this instance. The only way for the Ravens to save face (if they can at this point) is to get out of Rice's contract. It's time to cut him from this football team. The debate most Ravens fans want to avoid will only continue if he's still a member of the franchise.
After taking some time this morning to think over it, this is the only solution for everyone associated with the franchise or fan base. You can't be a respectable place of business and employ Rice any longer. The same applies to the Carolina Panthers, assuming defensive end Greg Hardy's appeal goes the same way his first trial went. And the same applies to any business in the marketplace. Employing someone caught on camera doing this sends the message that that it is OK to abuse women.
Rice isn't the only bad guy in this league. But he got caught on camera. His action that night speaks for itself. This isn't a there's-no-place-in-the-NFL-for-this argument. There's no place in society for this. Plain and simple.
The only way for everyone to move on is for the Ravens, as well as the city of Baltimore, to cut ties with him today.