Ray Rice and the Park Ave Piranhas

What a mess.  What an utter disaster.  What if the governing body and its headmaster are so deeply entrenched in filth that they can no longer be trusted to thoroughly clean it up?  

This is the curious case of the NFL and its handling (or lack thereof) of the Ray Rice domestic abuse scandal.  Yes, this reached “scandal” or “-gate” proportions.  

ESPN host Keith Olbermann delivered a stirring monologue (click the above video to watch) just hours after TMZ Sports released surveillance video footage showing Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice engaged in a physical altercation with this then-fiancé Janay Palmer in which he punches Palmer in the face, knocking her out cold. 

The hot water NFL commissioner Roger Goodell found himself in after only suspending Rice for two games upon his arrest (and TMZ Sports’ first release of video footage, a clip that did not include the punch) can now be considered lukewarm.  That water has quickly turned to s*** and it just hit the fan, boiling over into the league office on Park Avenue.  

Facing a tsunami wave of backlash with the release of the new video, the Ravens cut Rice and the NFL suspended him “indefinitely.” 

In his monologue, Olbermann suggests Goodell (amongst several other executives) resign in light of failing to appropriately punish Rice, all the while knowing what was on that video tape (after all, Rice admitted to punching Palmer, rendering her unconscious).  

Both the Ravens and the NFL said Monday was the first time they had seen the video of the punch itself.  Now the questions become, “what did they know” and “when did they know it.”  

According to a small handful of reporters, sources had seen the piece of video containing the knockout punch long before Monday.  

Despite being “anonymous,” it’s hard not to give the sources the benefit of the doubt here, especially given the NFL’s horrendous track record of poor decisions, lies and cover-ups.  

The NFL has been delivering knockout blows to its own players for decades by way of systematically denying a link between concussions (suffered while playing football) and long-term brain injuries.  The book and documentary film “League of Denial” details a massive cover-up, exposing the NFL’s mafia-like practices which included strong-arming, negligence and fraudulent behavior. 

The NFL allegedly allows some of its owners to get away with violating federal and state labor laws

Goodell himself continues to support a team name that many people find to be racist and extremely offensive.  

It’s a culture of lawlessness.  The Wild Wild West.  A realm in which the NFL does what it wants, when it wants.  

What happens when the police chief needs policing?  Who is in place to discipline Roger Goodell and his administration for their egregious behavior?  The court of public opinion might be the only body strong enough to force accountability and change.  

At best, league officials did not want to watch the damning casino surveillance video that was accessible to the police, prosecutor’s office, Rice’s attorneys (presumably) and TMZ.  At worst, Goodell and friends watched the video, suspended Rice for only two games, and allowed the Ravens to put on one of the most manipulative charades we’ll ever see from a professional sports team.

Both scenarios call for accountability at the top of the food chain.  At minimum, Goodell should provide a truthful explanation (and evidence to support it) of the investigation and subsequent suspension.  Goodell should also suspend himself from his post as commissioner in order to take some time to recognize his mistakes and figure out how to improve his job performance moving forward.  Another option is for Goodell to resign.

Olbermann suggests that “we” (the public, media, etc.) boycott all-things Ravens until team executives and the commissioner (Goodell) have been dismissed.  

With some current and former players staging a mutiny via social media in addition to the public outrage, Monday might be the day that forces a regime change in the all-mighty and powerful NFL. 

Let’s also hope that Janay Palmer is safe and sound after yet another traumatic day.  

Related Links:

The National Domestic Violence Hotline website 

Ray Rice Will Never Play in NFL Again, but Accountability Shouldn’t Stop There (Mike Freeman, Bleacher Report) 

The Real Reason Why Ray Rice Should Have Been Suspended Indefinitely (Jane McManus, ESPN) 

Treat Off-Camera Abusers Same as Ray Rice (Christine Brennan, USA Today Sports) 

10 Worst Scandals in NFL History (Tyson Langland, Bleacher Report)

image

Dear Chris,

Hey man, how’s it going? I would like to sugar coat the meaty contents of this letter by first saying congratulations on making it to the Super Bowl, as you and your 49ers teammates have made the city of San Francisco beam with football pride for the first time in many years.  That is wonderful.

More importantly, I have a personal favor I’d like to ask of you.  Please don’t apologize for your homophobic comments, attempt to rephrase or claim your words were taken out of context. 

I’m not sure even the best and brightest of the PR world could find a way to spin this (courtesy of the Mercury News):

“I don’t do the gay guys man,” Culliver said. “I don’t do that. No, we don’t got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do.

“Can’t be with that sweet stuff. Nah … can’t be … in the locker room man. Nah.”

Culliver suggested that homosexual athletes keep their sexuality private until 10 years after they retire.

Oy Vey. 

Apparently, Artie Lange is the new Oprah, getting guys like you to open up about such controversial subjects.  Impressive!

Here’s the thing Chris.  Personally, I respect your right to freely discuss your opinions, any time, any place. I’m sure the majority of San Franciscans agree, given the Bay Area’s storied history of the peace movement, freedom of speech and gay rights activism. 

This is why I implore you not to attempt to color these comments as something other than what they are; the dark truth that homophobia and strong anti-gay views remain deeply rooted in the world of professional sports.

Sure, there are other guys sprinkled throughout pro sports, for instance, your fellow NFL pals Brendon Ayanbadejo, Chris Kluwe and Scott Fujita, who are openly supportive of civil rights in this country, including LGBT rights.  But clearly the movement is not yet powerful enough to have impacted you, despite your own team’s efforts to join the cause

While it was a poor business move to publicly reveal your feelings about gays as a member of a San Francisco-based organization, there is no going back so you may as well resign to moving forward.

Should you apologize for hurting people’s feelings or offending them?  That seems fair.  You can stick by something you say while feeling bad that others are hurt by it.  In a weird and twisted way, I actually respect Lance Armstrong for a non-apology he gave Oprah in their sit-down interview.

Instead of taking the apology bait when Oprah asked him if he felt remorse, Armstrong’s response was, “everybody that gets caught is bummed out they got caught.” Finally, he was honest about something.

Chris, you are strong enough to take the Lance route on this one. 
Don’t be like your Super Bowl opponent Terrell Suggs who, after verbally decimating the "arrogant prick" Patriots, received a talking-to from teammate Ray Lewis, and consequently changed his tune to, “people don’t like them because they win,” in hopes of avoiding backlash.  That’s weak sauce.  Super weak. 

Stick to your beliefs.  Only if you mean it, say you’re sorry for offending anyone and then keep your mouth shut regarding this issue for the rest of the week.

And don’t worry about being excluded or treated as a leper back home in San Francisco after the Super Bowl.  Most of the folks in the Bay are much more accepting than you, so you need not worry.  It’s all good.  In fact, I bet you’ll be even more popular upon your return, as the locals will surely stop you on the street for a quick chat from time to time, in hopes that maybe, just maybe their open-mindedness might rub off on you. 

Sincerely,
Jackie

UPDATE:  Well, looks like Chris didn’t read my letter.  Bummer.

49ers statement, on behalf of Chris Culliver:

"The derogatory comments I made yesterday were a reflection of thoughts in my head, but they are not how I feel. It has taken me seeing them in print to realize that they are hurtful and ugly. Those discriminating feelings are truly not in my heart. Further, I apologize to those who I have hurt and offended, and I pledge to learn and grow from this experience.”

image image

Emotions ran high after the Baltimore Ravens earned a trip to the Super Bowl with a 28-13 win over the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game. 

While the Ravens celebrated their victory with tears, chanting, laughter and even some post game trash talk, there were those on the losing side also experiencing a host of emotions, theirs, of the less joyful variety.

A screen shot of a status update posted on the Facebook page of Anna Welker, wife of Patriots receiver Wes Welker, went viral after the game Sunday as the post took aim at the personal life of Ravens team captain Ray Lewis.

Anna Welker tells PepperOnSports.com exclusively,

"I’m deeply sorry for my recent post on Facebook, including comments about Ray Lewis. I let the competitiveness of the game and the comments people were making about a team I dearly love get the best of me. My actions were emotional and irrational and I sincerely apologize to Ray Lewis and anyone affected by my comment after yesterday’s game.  It is such an accomplishment for any NFL team to even make it to the playoffs, and the momentary frustration I felt should not overshadow the achievement of these amazing teams."