I am in a delighted state of shock. #ThisLeague… is running around with it’s hair on fire!!!
/extended Snoopy dance
Please, nobody throw them a bucket of water!
The most common question I have heard now in the last 24 hours, is the most basic one: WHY? Why go through so much trouble to NOT see the tape. WHY not blast Ray Rice with a full 1-year sit down, and the same scolding letter you wrote to Ben Roethlisberger?
Ray Rice is as disposable as a “star” as actual running backs are to teams these days. Cut him loose, rev up the bus, and burn rubber on him.
Well, I have a theory on that WHY. But first let’s also dispel another common phrase I have heard about Goodell: “He can’t be that stupid…”
To which I am quick to say…. DONT BE SO SURE ABOUT THAT!
That video makes 99% of the general public say: “I feel sick.” Suspending Rice for a full year doesn’t suddenly make the public say.. “Ahhhh. I feel SO much better now. Ray Rice is out for a full year.”
There is no Feel Good Balm in a tube you can lightly apply and make it all better.
Fans and non-fans are still just as sickened – proper suspension or not – and left to ponder: “Just how many of these guys ARE there in the NFL?”
Worse yet, one wonders: “And Rice seemed like such a nice guy. Can I trust any player not to be a total scumbag wearing a cheap smile who is coached into being a smooth interview?”
Think about it… this was the WORST VISUAL the NFL has had since Daryl Stingley… and arguably the worst visual ever. At least Stingley was paralyzed by a hit from another man, and in the context of playing a brutal game each man signed up for.
No amount of games lost, erases people seeing a woman cold-cocked and kicked out of an elevator like garbage.
Put simply: a suspension would be easy. What was hard? THAT VISUAL NEEDED TO DIE!
Unrealistic you say? Well, maybe. But it worked with the Spygate tapes (Jay Glazer’s bootleg, notwithstanding). Why not try again? We’ll figure out Plan B later, right?
You see, almost every other “very bad thing” by players or owners that the NFL had to deal with… never had visuals attached to them. They existed in the abstract.
We didn’t see anything but empty cages at Bad Newz Kennels.
We didn’t see Aaron Hernandez execute his gang-bangin’ buddy in the middle of the night.
Jovan Belcher’s murder-suicide of his girlfriend was nothing but yellow crime tape around an apartment.
Ray Lewis and his homies stabbing to death two guys in the club, was just a limo with bullet holes and some shell casings on the street marked by yellow number placards.
Bountygate had Gregg Williams’ pre-game audio … but audio ain’t video.
Remember: humans are visual creatures. We believe what we SEE, above all else. Above what we think, or what we know, or what we read, or what we are told.
That’s why somebody smart invented the phrase: “Seeing … is believing.”
As much as we like to paint the NFL as an unstoppable printing machine, somebody in some board room has to do some negotiating. Just as TV networks and beer companies have to be somewhat responsive to their own public perception.
So when Goodell and his suits sit down to bang people for money, the people with the checks in hand get to say… “Okay…. who do I make this out to… and oh yeah… we really don’t like it when your players make the throat slash gesture while standing over somebody. Can you do something about that?”
News of 3 players busted in one off-season for beating up women is one thing. You can always say “we’re cracking down on that.”
But when you SEE Ray Rice, deliver a textbook LEFT HOOK to his wife, like he had been training for months for the moment she stepped up to him… that’s when corporate dollars go cold.
Suddenly, the buy rate is not for 110% of last year’s budget, but rather 70%, and a “we want to see the league make more strides on this first” kind of thing.
And it’s bad for fucking business all around.
So the NFL knew this thing was bad. They clearly had a copy. Goodell MIGHT not have seen it, but my guess is that an underling saw it first, reported what was in it… and said to Roger: “We need to protect you from seeing this, because hopefully.. it NEVER gets out. You need DENIABILITY.”
So they make a deal with Ray Rice’s scummy attorney, Michael Diamondstein… and say… look… legally, ONLY YOU have a copy of this. You need to EAT THIS VIDEO, and we’ll find a way to go as easy as we can.
Rice settles his legal status May 20 by entering the PTI (Pre-Trial Intervention) program. The NFL then sllllloooooowwww walks things as much as it can from May 20 to July 24 – both to figure out a plan, and to see if that REALLY BAD video somehow shakes loose.
They can’t wait any longer because training camp is about to begin… and so they move on a paltry 2 game suspension, hoping that no other copies exist, and that Ray’s people keep up their end of the deal.
Then sometime shortly afterward, Harvey Levin gets a call. A significant wire transfer for the tape goes through. And he sits and waits…. like a tiger in the jungle.
And BOOM… in the PRE-DAWN hours, on the league’s most celebratory Monday – essentially, Christmas morning for football fans – he lights the NFL’s house on fire.
Everybody is scrambling. EVERYBODY. Especially the league suits. Who make a VERY BAD CHOICE when they say WITHIN HOURS… “Hmm…. first we’ve seen of this.”
The NFL, if smart, should have waited all DAY, even scheduled a presser for TUESDAY morning. Go dark. Nobody make any sharp moves. Get your ducks in line. Get your story straight. See what else shakes out. HAVE A PLAN.
Nope. They are stuck. “We haven’t seen this until now.”
At this moment, their goose is cooked, and they don’t even know it. You can’t prove a negative. How can you? Goodell never saw it? Unless you had a Go-Pro on his head for 7 months, you’ve got nothing.
What they should have said is simple: “Yes, we’ve seen this video and it is disgusting. But like we said all along, we took all factors into account. Of course we didn’t want this released because it’s an awful visual for kids to see, but frankly we knew this is what was on there.”
And let the pundits line up for another round of whacking the piñata of morality until the stuffing falls out. Then it fades. And fades. And the dogs bark, but the league caravan moves on.