ESPN host Keith Olbermann slammed the National Football League, the Baltimore Ravens, league commissioner Roger Goodell, and prosecutors in New Jersey on Monday, accusing them of covering up the severity of the attack by running back Ray Rice on his then-fiancee earlier this year.
“Roger Goodell’s existence, who he is, what he has turned the NFL commissioner’s office into, is now symbolized by Ray Rice’s brutal left hand striking Janay Palmer, and striking her again,” Olbermann said. “Mr. Goodell is an enabler of men who beat women. His position within the National Football League is no longer tenable.”
The Ravens cut Rice from the team shortly after TMZ released video of him knocking her out in a casino elevator in New Jersey this past February. Palmer later married Rice and argued on his behalf in a meeting with Goodell.
Rice was serving a two-game suspension imposed by the league at the time of his firing. But prosecutors had allowed Rice to enroll in an “intervention program,” allowing him to avoid assault charges in the incident.
Olbermann argued that the collective response by legal, league and team officials to the attack amounted to a “whitewashing” of Rice’s actions.
“There is no other conclusion possible,” Olbermann said. “Each body, each leading individual involved, came to a judicial conclusion about what had happened to Janay Palmer and what should happen to Ray Rice, and each — through deception or incompetence — misled the public, damaged the efforts of every man and every woman in this country seeking to merely slow down the murderous epidemic of domestic violence, and made a mockery of the process by which those who batter those they claim to love are to be brought to justice.”
Besides reiterating his argument last month that Goodell should resign, Olbermann also called for Rice to be banned for life from the league; for the resignations of Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome and president Richard Cass; and for officials in Atlantic County to investigate prosecutor Jim McClain, assistant prosecutor Diane Rupert, and Judge Michael Dorio to see if they were complicit in protecting Rice.
Olbermann also accused “all of us” — fans of the sport, executives, players and press outlets covering it — of “failing to draw a line in the sand” regarding domestic violence.
“Any games played by Baltimore without its executives and the commissioner having been dismissed and without Ray Rice being permanently banned by the National Football League must be fully boycotted by all of us,” he said. “If not, we become accessories after the fact.”
Watch Olbermann’s commentary, as aired on Monday, below.
Two activist groups on Friday will deliver petitions with more than 100,000 signatures calling on NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to better “address the NFL’s domestic violence problem” in the wake of criticism over the league’s punishment of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice.
CREDO Action and UltraViolet, two advocacy networks, organized petition drives last Friday after Goodell handed Rice a two-game suspension for his arrest on domestic violence charges. Rice allegedly punched his then-fiancee at an Atlantic City casino in February and was caught on security video dragging her out of a hotel elevator while she was unconscious. Echoing widespread sentiment of the suspension, the two groups called the punishment “woefully inadequate” and “meager” in a release that said they had collectively received more 116,863 signatures on their separate petitions.
“The NFL has a serious domestic abuse problem that it has failed miserably at addressing,” Shaunna Thomas, the co-founder of UltraViolet, said in the release. “Their reaction to the Ray Rice case is nothing short of shameful. Yet, is also sadly predictable as the league has made very clear that it is fine looking the other way when it comes to cases of domestic abuse. It is far past time the NFL clean up it’s act and learn to respect women.”
CREDO’s petition called on the NFL to provide better standards for domestic violence and sexual assault punishments, noting that the league regularly issues harsher punishments for recreational and performance-enhancing drug use (under its collectively-bargained drug policy) than it does for violence against women. UltraViolet’s petition tells the NFL to change its policies “so that violent offenders like Ray Rice receive suspensions that reflect the severity of the crime.”
“We simply cannot tolerate conduct that endangers others. This is particularly true with respect to domestic violence and other forms of violence against women,” Goodell wrote in a letter to Rice informing him of the suspension. The commissioner, who is attending Hall of Fame ceremonies in Canton, Ohio this weekend, has not spoken publicly about the Rice suspension despite the widespread criticism of it.
Adolpho Birch, the league’s executive vice president for labor policy and government affairs, struggled to justify the short suspension in an interview with ESPN last week, saying: “We believe the discipline we issued is appropriate. It is multiple games and hundreds of thousands of dollars. I think it’s fair to say that doesn’t reflect that you condone the behavior.”
Rice held a press conference at the Ravens training camp facility Thursday to publicly apologize. “I take full responsibility for my actions,” Rice said. “What happened that night is something that I’m going to pay for the rest of my life.”
Roger Goodell, take note.
While the NFL was getting reamed for the weak punishment it handed down to Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for allegedly beating his then-fiancée unconscious — a two-game suspension, really? — baseball’s Minnesota Twins dealt with a similar issue in a way that should make its fans proud.
In a month’s time, four-time All-Star and Twins legend Chuck Knoblauch was scheduled to be inducted in the club’s Hall of Fame prior to a game at Target Field. But on Thursday, the organization announced it was canceling the event.
That’s because the previous night Knoblauch had been arrested for allegedly attacking his ex-wife by throwing her head into the wall and hitting her in the arm and chest.
The reason for the former athlete’s anger? His ex-wife told police that he was upset that she had not been sleeping in the same bedroom as their child.
This isn’t the first accusation of domestic abuse levied against Knoblauch. He had previously been sentenced to a year of probation for abusing his previous wife in 2010.
At first glance, one might think that by canceling the Hall of Fame ceremony the Twins were just recognizing the poor timing of the event and would instead wait to induct Knoblauch once the uproar had died down.
That doesn’t appear to be the case.
"There are no plans to reschedule," Twins President Dave St. Peter said on Thursday.
St. Peter wouldn’t rule out Knoblauch ever being inducted: “Never is a strong word,” he allowed. Still, he explained that the club has no intention of honoring the former second baseman.
The prior generation of baseball stars (including longtime Knoblauch teammate Kirby Puckett) may have been able to largely get away with domestic abuse allegations, just like Rice escaped with a slap on the wrist this week.
Yet that’s not the case for Knoblauch. And rightly so.
Source: R.J. Rico for Mic
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— Justin Gibson (@JGibsonDem)
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Ravens WR Torrey Smith is absolutely right.