On Monday morning I woke up as I did every other morning. I was happy, life was good, and then breaking news. TMZ releases a video of Ray Rice hitting his girlfriend, now wife in Janay Rice in a elevator at a Atlantic City casino.
However, I just never imagined it would be like this.
On Tuesday morning, this morning, I woke up conflicted. Here was a guy that I thought was going to be the next great running back in the NFL, from the college ranks to the pros, an upstanding citizen, February 2014 notwithstanding, and he had just been cut from his team and suspended indefinitely by the NFL. For a transgression that most men have to come to grips with at some point in life: whether to or not to hit a woman.
And that’s why I am conflicted. I understand Rice being a great football player doesn’t mean he is a man of great character. I get that. I also know and believe it is inherently and uncategorically wrong to hit anyone, especially a woman. But when any guy puts himself in Ray Rice’s shoes, or if even confronted with domestic disputes on any level, those beliefs sometimes fly out the window.
Don’t misunderstand. I am not condoning his actions by any means. And I am not saying she deserved to get hit. no woman does. No man does, for that matter. (Yes, in 40% of domestic violence crimes, the man is the victim. So don’t always paint us guys in a bad light.) All I am saying is put yourself in his situation. We have no idea what went on before the elevator footage. All we see is him already standing there, she walks by and slaps him out of the blue, then they get in the elevator. Which is an enclosed space where neither one of them can get away. And we see him shove her back, her step to him, and before she can lay another slap, he lays her out. It’s obvious they were fighting prior to when the footage began, so there is way more to this story.
However, that still didn’t give him a right to viciously punch her.
So I am conflicted, because while I know what he did was wrong, regardless of the circumstances surrounding him punching his fiancee, I understand it. But then I substitute Janay Rice with my sisters, my mom. And I know I couldn’t bring myself to hit any of them in that way. Which is what makes me sick seeing how Rice could so callously and unremorsefully just drop a punch on her and then act like nothing happened.
I don’t condone domestic violence at any level and for any reason. And it literally disgusts me that people have to put up with that. There are thousands of women that are beaten and abused every day in this country. Seeing this video makes those victims re-live their horrific nightmares as well. Domestic violence is an issue I hope we all can overcome, but I also hope it is one we can bring to light every chance we get, because no one, man or woman, deserves to be put through that. I feel for Janay Rice. She is the victim here, regardless of the surrounding circumstances.
Should Ray Rice play in the NFL again? I believe he should. Not now. Not next year. He needs to concentrate on getting help, and proving first and foremost to his wife and his family, that the incident on that Atlantic City elevator will never happen again.
But let’s also not be quick to judge. Everyone deserves forgiveness, everyone deserves redemption. He may always be a wife beater. Or he may actually change his life for the better. We won’t ever know unless we give him the opportunity to try and turn things around. Put yourself in his shoes. Put yourself in that elevator. I bet it’s just as hard for you to walk away.