Now that video has surfaced of Ray Rice punching his then-fiance in an Atlantic City elevator in February, Roger Goodell finds himself in a sticky situation. The NFL commissioner, who suspended Rice for two games following the incident, claims that he – Goodell – had not seen the video until Monday.
Two questions immediately come to mind: One, if Goodell is actually telling the truth, how had he not already seen the video? And two, if he had seen it, how in the world could he only suspend Rice for two games?
“There’s a lot of reasons to believe Goodell saw that video before today,” CBSSports.com national columnist Gregg Doyel said on The MoJo Show. “A whole lot of reasons – aside from the fact that he told us he didn’t.”
Hell, several members of the media, including ESPN’s Cris Carter, claimed they had seen the video before TMZ leaked it Monday. If Carter had seen it, you would think Goodell would have seen it, too – and if he didn’t, why would he not demand to see such an important piece of evidence before handing out Rice’s punishment?
“I can’t make sense of that,” Doyel said. “We heard there was an elevator video. We heard about this before the suspension even came out. Either Goodell did the suspension without seeing the most important thing he could see, or he did see it and gave a wimpy little two-game suspension anyway.”
Goodell later admitted in a letter to NFL owners that he made a mistake in letting Rice off so easily. He then unveiled a domestic-abuse policy, which stipulates a mandatory six-game suspension for first-time offenders.
For many, however, it was too little, too late.
“It took us getting mad at him for him to change his mind on the Ray Rice suspension – or at least realize he got it wrong,” Doyel said. “And (then) the video (was released) and everybody freaked out and all of a sudden the Ravens and NFL wanted nothing to do with Ray Rice.”
“We all kind of think – and we don’t know – but we all kind of think the Ravens and Goodell knew exactly what happened on that elevator. But it took the world getting furious and seeing it for them to finally act.”
As for Goodell claiming he never saw the video until Monday, well, Doyel isn’t sure what to make of that.
“You can say you’re not sure you believe somebody without calling them a liar,” Doyel said. “I’m jut not sure I believe that Goodell never saw that video. I’m not ready to say he lied – because that implies I know he lied. I don’t know.”
Either way, Goodell had to know a video existed, and he had to know eventually it would go public. As Chris Moore observed, it’s 2014. No secrets stay secrets.
“There is some stuff that we’ll just never know; I think Goodell believed this is one of those things,” Doyel said. “But I have to believe he saw the video. Again, I’m not calling him a liar, but I have to believe that he saw that video. And there’s no way you give Ray Rice two games if you think that video’s going to be seen by everybody else. There’s just no possible way.”
Lost in the shuffle in all of this, sadly, is Janay Rice. It would be easy for people to criticize her for marrying Rice despite what he did in that elevator, but Doyel – whose father was a judge who specialized in domestic violence – offered a different perspective.
“She’s a victim,” he said. “Janay Rice is an absolute victim, and absolute victims – once they’ve been bullied and intimidated and beaten and everything else that happened to her that we don’t know about – they’re not thinking straight. They should not be judged. She should not be judged. Walk a mile in her shoes. Actually, you don’t want to walk a mile in those shoes. Those shoes get upside down (and) unconscious. She’s a victim. She should get no side eyes from anybody. She’s a victim.”