BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The NFL slaps Ravens star running back Ray Rice with a two game suspension.
Mike Hellgren has more on the punishment and what it means for Rice and the team.
Some call the decision disgusting, others call it right on target. As for the Ravens, they simply want to move on.
Ray Rice is back on the field — for now — but his conduct off it cost him a two game suspension and half a million dollars.
Infamous TMZ Sports video shows Rice dragging his now-wife, Janay Palmer, from an elevator at a casino in Atlantic City in February after prosecutors say he punched her.
A judge put Rice in a first-time offender program, meaning no jail time and a clean record. But NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who met with Rice and his wife, says the assault warranted suspension.
“We simply cannot tolerate conduct that endangers others… This is particularly true with respect to domestic violence and other forms of violence against women,” said Goodell in a letter to Rice.
The Ravens’ head coach is moving forward.
“He makes a mistake, he’s going to have to pay a consequence,” Coach John Harbaugh said. “I think that’s good for kids to understand that it works that way. That’s how it works. That’s how it should be.”
Backlash has been swift. On Twitter, some call the two game suspension a slap on the wrist and a bad message to women.
Rice also drew criticism during a press conference with his wife in May, where she apologized, but he never said sorry to her.
“I won’t call myself a failure. Failure is not getting knocked down, it’s not getting up,” said Rice during the press conference.
Before making his decision, Commissioner Goodell saw other video of the altercation that has not been made public.
Rice did not talk at practice, but issued a statement:
“It is disappointing that I will not be with my teammates for the first two games of the season, but that’s my fault. As I said earlier, I failed in many ways. But, Janay and I have learned from this. We have become better as a couple and as parents. I am better because of everything we have experienced since that night. The counseling has helped tremendously.
“My goal is to earn back the trust of the people, especially the children, I let down because of this incident. I am a role model and I take that responsibility seriously. My actions going forward will show that.”
“It’s not a big deal; it’s just part of the process,” Coach Harbaugh said. “We’ve said from the beginning that the circumstances will determine the consequences. There are consequences when you make a mistake like that. I stand behind Ray. He’s a heck of a guy. He’s done everything right since.”
In a statement from the House of Ruth, a group that crusades against domestic violence, they say:
“Today’s news of a two-day suspension and fines for Ray Rice once again brings the issue of intimate partner violence to the forefront; an issue that is far more prevalent in our communities than many know. One in four women will, at some point in her life, be a victim of physical abuse in an intimate relationship. While Mr. Rice faces penalties and fines for his role in this incident, we hope that the counseling both he and his wife are receiving will end any violence in their relationship. We also hope that they will take this opportunity to be a positive influence for both the people in their lives and our extended community, demonstrating what a healthy relationship looks like.
“This incident has started a conversation among football fans and the public in general about intimate partner violence. We welcome that, and encourage all men who have wives, partners, daughters, sisters, mothers and friends to take this opportunity to talk with the people in their lives about forming healthy relationships. The House of Ruth Maryland will continue to be a resource for anyone impacted by this destructive behavior.”
Mark Viviano has more reaction from the team and fans.
Ray Rice participated in the Ravens’ first full squad training camp workout, and after work, he got a hug from team owner Steve Bisciotti.
His team stands by him in the aftermath of a highly publicized incident that has now led to a two game suspension.
“Ray Rice is a great guy. I’ve known him for six, seven years now. I know he knows he made a mistake and he’s going to work through it,” said Ravens defensive lineman Haloti Ngata. “All I can do is just support him and be his teammate.”
Most of Rice’s teammates have said all along that they are more concerned for Ray Rice the person than they worry about him as a player.
“People are going to feel differently. But I know how Ray is as a person and I know how Janay is, and they’re working to improve on everything,” said wide receiver Torrey Smith. “I’ll be glad when those two games are up. Not only so we can have him back, which is the least of my worries, but to kind of close the final chapter for him.”
General Manager and Executive Vice President Ozzie Newsome released the following statement:
“We appreciate the thorough process the league office used to evaluate the incident with Ray Rice. The time the commissioner spent with Ray and Janay is typical of the extra steps the NFL takes when making decisions regarding discipline issues. While not having Ray for the first two games is significant to our team, we respect the league’s decision and believe it is fair.
“We also respect the efforts Ray has made to become the best partner and father he can be. That night was not typical of the Ray Rice we know and respect. We believe that he will not let that one night define who he is, and he is determined to make sure something like this never happens again.”
Ray Rice remains a fan favorite. Some in attendance at training camp were proudly sporting his jersey. Those WJZ asked say they’re OK with Ray Rice’s suspension.
“I think it was the right decision. I don’t think it was harsh,” one Ravens fan said.
“Everybody makes mistakes, and I guess he made a mistake. And I guess his testimony will be proving it to us on the field,” said another.
“He’s a good guy at heart. We’re all human,” another fan said.
“It’s his first offense. I think that, all and all, it was fitting of what he did,” another said.
Among those who think Ray Rice got off too easily is ex-teammate Derrick Mason, the former Ravens wide receiver, saying a two game suspension for Rice leads to the question of whether the NFL cares about women.
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