Second Chances Need Not Apply

To the domestic abuse victim and wife of Ray Rice — running back for the Baltimore Ravens and wife abuser — I apologize for writing this column. In a comment released on an Instagram post, she says in part, “No one knows the pain that the media & unwanted options(sic) from the public has caused my family. To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret everyday is a horrible thing.” 

 

Her message was posted Tuesday morning, a day after surveillance video surfaced of an incident back in February, when she and her then-fiancé entered an elevator in an Atlantic City casino hotel, exchanged no more than a few words, and Ray Rice knocked her unconscious with two quick punches to the face. Original footage released back at the time of the altercation only showed the outside view of the elevator — a woman unconscious, being dragged out of an elevator by a man identified as Ray Rice. 
 
There are some events that the media need not cover. In fact, sports media tend to err on the side of over-coverage of stories. Other news events do not require video footage in order to tell the story, either because the story can be told without the visual or because the footage is just too horrific to exhibit for mass consumption. 
 
For instance, when writing about the 9-year-old girl shooting her instructor, I felt watching the actual footage of the shot to the head wouldn’t have added to better understanding the situation. 
 
However, speaking exclusively as one man, I believe the Rice video has to be shown. This video is so heinous that it has to be used as a teachable moment to advance our civilization. 
The reason is that this — domestic violence, spousal abuse, assault against women — affects everyone, and it cannot be tolerated or ignored. 
 
More importantly, domestic violence most frequently occurs behind closed doors, in the privacy of one couple’s own home, where light is scarce and cameras cannot reach. Most of humanity abhors violence against women, but not enough understand it. Only when we have such a stark example do we register the raw brutality.
 
While this video is not for children, all adults and dating-age minors need to see it. This is what “monstrous” looks like. 
 
Ray Rice may not be a bad person at his core. Everyone at one time or another is faced with a decision-making moment that can change their life forever. Sometimes we make the wrong decision and get away with it, and sometimes we try to do the right thing and it turns out to be wrong. He made the wrong decision and he deserves every ounce of punishment and judgement that we as a society can squeeze out — legally and professionally in the case of the NFL. 
 
I do believe that he should be allowed to play again in the NFL. The real punishment needs to come from law enforcement. While not an apples-to-apples analogy, consider any other career outside of professional sports. Once the legal process is complete and he fulfills whatever service he owes to society, he should be allowed back to work. It is not the job of the NFL to rehabilitate its players. It is, however, their mandate to make sure that they become a leading advocate in the war against domestic violence. And if punishing Rice for a significant, subsequent amount of time is the most efficacious method, then the NFL has my full support. 
 
Everyone deserves a second chance. That is ingrained in us all as much as you don’t fucking hit women — sorry for the emotional outburst, but this malady has stricken people whom I love. But I will add that just because someone deserves a second chance does not mean that it is your responsibility to give it to them. If a similar video surfaced of a LEO employee or someone seeking employment at LEO, I am not sorry to say that they would no longer be welcome here, nor would they receive their second opportunity here. No questions and no second chances for people who abuse women, children or animals. Those individuals are welcome to go seek that second chance anywhere else, but not here. That is what “second chance” actually means. 
 
So I will not be upset if Rice suits up to play in the NFL again. It is absolutely his right to rehabilitate, repent and attempt to rectify his actions. He does not owe anyone an apology outside of his own family and friends. But should that day come, I hope it is not with my San Francisco 49ers, because they will no longer have my support.