On Ray Rice, Roger Goodell, the NFL and picking up the pieces

If you watch just five seconds of the video that surfaced on Monday showing former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice beating his then-girlfriend and now wife unconscious, it doesn’t take long for an opinion to form.

If you’ve seen the video already, you know where this is going. It takes the same path as when the story surfaced: this is a man – a strong man in a physical profession at that – putting his hands on a woman in a violent manner and it is 100 percent unacceptable.

But there is now much more to the story. Roger Goddell handed out a two-game suspension to Rice for the incident with no video evidence to base his discipline. The suspension turned into one of indefinite length once the video was seen by all involved on Monday.

There are plenty of ways you can point the finger for blame. In fact, you would need several people to point enough fingers at everyone who is at fault.

First, there is Ray Rice. Obviously, he is at fault for the action, for assuming he is higher than the average person who commits a domestically violent act on a woman.

He can ask for forgiveness. It is very difficult to think that any team will be forgiving enough to give him another shot in the NFL. His career is essentially over.

There is Janay Palmer-Rice, who after being the victim of the whole situation, put herself back in the limelight by standing by her husband’s statement.

Without personal experience, no one can insert themselves into her shoes or the shoes of any woman who experiences such violence. If her support of her husband is a front that women have to put up to avoid inciting the abuser, then it was the show the media probably wanted all along, which makes her statement against the media a double standard.

The Baltimore Ravens and National Football League operate together in violating the same fault. The fact that both organizations, especially with as much leverage as the NFL, could not obtain the video or at least a detailed account of the attack is absurd. It makes absolutely no sense.

This looks bad for everyone. It makes John Harbaugh look bad as the coach of the team. It makes the ownership of the Ravens look like they didn’t give due diligence to an investigation.

In Goodell’s case, he’s at fault for the same lack of commitment to investigation while handing out a suspension that was not substantial enough.

When you watch the video, you form an instant opinion. One of the first thoughts that come to mind is that this warranted a two-game suspension. That’s it. Just two games. That is certainly not doing justice.

Goodell’s recovery by issuing an indefinite suspension does not save this situation any. He messed it up the first time. He can’t recover from this with quick thinking. It will take a lot for the commissioner to earn the trust of NFL fans back.

Should Goodell be fired or step down as commissioner? It’s tough to say. Will he? Definitely not.

Regardless, all parties now have to try to pick up the pieces from this mess. There’s no guarantee they will be able to do it.

For Ray Rice, his NFL career is likely over. For Janay Palmer-Rice, defending her husband is her decision. Whether is prolongs these actions or not are the saddening consequences that could be facing her for the rest of her life.

For the Baltimore Ravens, there is the road to recovery from this incident. It may be starting with trading in jersey features Rice’s name. That doesn’t make it any closer to being over.

For Roger Goodell and the NFL, there is also a long road to recovery. This tarnishes Goodell’s image, possibly permanently. The NFL as a whole failed in disciplining a player as a public figure. That was what outraged the fans the most, a lack of discipline from the league.

This incident alters a lot of lives and none of them may fully recover. It all comes back to Rice and his wife, but the effects on the Ravens and the NFL will be long-lasting as well.

Kevin Durso is a contributor for Eagledelphia. Follow him on Twitter @KDursoPhilsNet.