Right now… this very minute… some guy is beating on his wife or girlfriend. Doesn’t matter when “now” is. It happens every hour of every day. And it doesn’t matter where, because it happens everywhere.
Many of these crimes won’t be reported. Many that are reported will never land anywhere near a courtroom because charges won’t be pressed.
People don’t want this kind of thing out in public. So they keep it to themselves.
But when there’s video, the story changes. And when the video is of a popular or well known figure, it changes all the more.
Hence we have the overcomplicated story of one Ray Rice, 27, a football star for New Rochelle, NY High School. A bigger football star for Rutgers University. And then, in time for the 2008 season, he was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens.
Those first few years were terrific. But by the time the TMZ website released the video footage of him clobbering Janay Palmer -- now Janay Rice -- in the up- moving elevator, his work on the field was on the local car down.
Rice was suspended indefinitely and the Ravens fired him.
Mrs. Rice thinks that’s overkill. After all, she married the guy not long after he attacked her.
Rice is not a big man as football players go. He’s 5’8” and weighs a little over 200 pounds. In football land, he’s short and light.
But when a guy’s job is breaking heads, which is what Rice did for a living up until now, sometimes, he brings the office home.
Why do you think people watch football? And what do you expect from many a player?
To be generous, bad behavior from someone who is likely to stand up at a sentencing hearing and tell the judge “I’m not a bad person.” Or who enlists his mother to say the same to ESPN.
Three issues that aren’t talked about: First, when you recruit who you recruit to play the game, you have to expect some fallout. And second while some fans shrink in horror over all this, others are secretly cheering them on. That’s two. The third in a moment.
If there’s no violence on the field, no one turns out on game day. No one buys that eighth or ninth drink in the sports bar and makes more noise per capita there than they would at a stadium. So we accept that while rejecting similar behavior off the field.
Now for the third thing: Is an employer responsible for the behavior of his employees outside the workplace?
It depends on who you ask and when you ask them.
Corporate America would like you to think it is. Ask any doctor who smokes or anyone at Hobby Lobby who wants the morning after pill.
The Rice case is just another example. But don’t feel sorry for the guy, feel sorry for Janay.
She’s the one coming to his defense. In denial? Too hooked into what used to be a small fortune?
The Ray Rices of the world -- football player, factory worker, corporate executive, lawyer, doctor, whatever -- need to be tried and convicted.
The NFL is a good place to start. Factory workers, corporate executives, lawyers and doctors don’t have head-breaking in their job descriptions.
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(C) WJR 2014