Friday, September 12, 2014

Ray Rice, Domestic Abuse, the NFL and the Ravens

Ray Rice is a dirt bag. 


Don't let the following blog post make you believe that I think anything other than "Ray Rice is a dirt bag."

NFL fans have taken to burning Ray Rice jerseys.

Here's what happened to the best of my knowledge.


Ray Rice was accused of domestic violence toward a woman that's been reported as both his fiancée and wife. I'm not sure which it is, but it doesn't matter.

The NFL suspended Ray Rice for two games while the incident was under investigation.

A few days later they suspended at quarterback for the Cleveland Browns for something related to marijuana, but frankly I didn't care enough to read the details. I like football but I hate gossip, and the article seems like gossip. Social media started screaming because a marijuana offense resulted in a longer suspension.

A video surfaces that alleges Ray Rice is shown throwing a woman to the ground inside an elevator of a hotel/casino. The video appears to be authentic, but I don't know with absolute certainty.

The NFL suspends Ray Rice indefinitely and his employer, the Baltimore Ravens, releases him.

The woman, whose name I won't use because I don't believe in naming victims of crime, defended Ray Rice. A further video was released that showed the couple in an argument with foul language and the woman spitting on him. The woman said he was justified in getting physical and that she provoked the incident. She lashed out at media, blaming them for her husband being terminated.

So there you have the chronology to the best of my knowledge. Here's what I think…


Ray Rice is a dirt bag. Any man who hits a woman is a dirt bag.


The woman probably provoked him. Actually, she most definitely provoked him. That's no excuse for his behavior. The argument was intense. Spitting at him was offensive.

A real man would've walked away. A real man would have stopped talking and ended the confrontation and walked away. Ray Rice is a little, little man in a big body.


So what about the NFL and the Ravens and the media?


Let's begin with the media. Ray Rice is a celebrity, and while I see it as trivial gossip pseudo-news, they have the right to report facts.

The Baltimore Ravens probably have a clause in Ray Rice's contract that includes behavior reflecting poorly on the franchise. Legally, they have the right, but not the obligation to terminate him. Why do I say "not the obligation"? Because, the Ravens were his employer. As an employer, if one of my employees was accused of a crime, I would withhold judgment until the evidence was clear. Remember, a media report is not evidence. As an employer, the employees are entitled to reasonable doubt. I'm not saying Ray Rice didn't deserve to be fired, he certainly did. I'm just saying the Ravens organization wasn't obligated. With that said, I think they made the right decision at the right time.

The NFL and the Commissioner have been under intense scrutiny.

First of all, I think the NFL should not have suspended Ray Rice at all. Again, let me reiterate, I think Ray Rice is a dirt bag.

The NFL is not his employer. The NFL is an association of franchises sold to individual businesses. Industry associations are only allowed to exist to promote the benefit of its franchises, but not to interfere with operations.

To protect their brand, the NFL and the Players Association, the union whose obligation is to the employees exclusively colluded to suspend Ray Rice without due process nor objection by the Association.

In no other industry would this be legal.


Imagine it within a different context.
A trucking industry association hears of a driver who is accused of a heinous crime. The head of the association calls one of their members, XYZ Trucking, and states that not only is the driver to be fired, they aren't allowed to be hired by anyone else in the entire industry. 
XYZ Trucking, based on this accusation, immediately terminates the driver. The Teamsters Union does nothing to defend the driver. 
Later the driver is acquitted of the crime due to lack of evidence. He isn't perceived as innocent, but the evidence doesn't support a guilty verdict.
Essentially, that's what happened in the NFL. Rice was suspended indefinitely, fired from his job, a high-profile job that inevitably results in loss of other income such as endorsements. Rice's official representation did absolutely nothing.

Once again, I think Ray Rice is a dirt bag. However, the NFL overstepped what they should be allowed to do, and the Players Association did not do their job. Whether the NFL's decision was popular, is irrelevant. Whether the Players Association's responsibility was popular, again is irrelevant.

This is another situation where big dollars in the entertainment industry have overstepped the bounds of law. It's happened in Hollywood, in the television industry, the recording industry and in professional and collegiate sports. Not until we have extreme hindsight doesn't even become apparent to us. Blacklisting is still happening today but we are tolerant of it simply because we think Ray Rice is a dirt bag.

What did the NFL know? 


The NFL claims they did not investigate, nor should they have. That's a law enforcement responsibility. If they did acquire evidence such as the video, it's their responsibility to turn it over to law enforcement not to play judge and jury.

I'm also disappointed in law enforcement. If that video is authentic, Ray Rice deserves punishment. Law enforcement based on the initial evidence should have arrested him. Even without testimony of the woman, the State has an obligation to act and hold a trial.

Last but not least, my thoughts on the fiancée/wife.


Please get this woman some help. Her outbursts and anger have triggered a firestorm of #whyIstayed and #whyIleft. Clearly she assumes blame where it doesn't belong. This is very typical of abused women. Acts of cowardice and abuse get reflected back into their eyes, and they see themselves as the aggressor rather than the victim.

Abusive men have an amazing way of finding women willing to be victims. This is a high-profile case of a woman who has been devastated by abuse.

I feel bad for her. She's in a horrible situation. Coming forward means loss of income and the end of a relationship in a very public way. She feels responsible, even if that's not justifiable. She needs help, and a very good divorce lawyer.

To all women… particularly my daughter… if a man hits you, leave immediately. He doesn't deserve your respect, loyalty or love.


Yes, men can change. However, few of them do. The ones who do are the ones who have successfully gotten out of a situation. If he can change, let him do it with someone else. Staying with him removes all incentive for change.

Lastly, to Ray Rice… 


I think you're a dirt bag based on what I've seen. If you have committed these crimes I sincerely hope you are convicted by a jury, placed in a cell about the size of an elevator with another dirt bag proportionally larger than you as you are to the woman in the video. I hope there's no surveillance camera.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

September 11, 2001 began a journey toward hope.

Thirteen years ago my wife and I had to spend the last of our savings on fertility treatments. We'd spent a year and a half and $30,000 trying to get pregnant. Our last attempt, success or not, was in late August 2001.

I remember sitting at my desk watching the twin towers burn and collapse on a Tuesday morning. I remember thinking that the world was changing minute by minute.

I was born in June 1970. With the exception of a three-day ground war in Kuwait, I lived in the most peaceful time in American history. Now that was changing. More Americans died in 90 minutes then had died in my lifetime in what I knew was just the beginning of war.

September 11 was terrifying to us in a very unique way. My wife and I had just given everything to try to bring a child into this world. We still had to wait several days to determine if she was pregnant.

Were we going to be parents? If so, where we bring a child into an uncertain world? Our suburban American life had shielded us from the hardships and struggles of most of the planet, with only quick snippets on the 11 PM news. We had seen heartache and suffering from far-off lands, but it still seems no more real than a television drama. But now, we'd seen American firefighters covered in dust, weeping. We'd seen stockbrokers, insurance agents, administrative assistants and janitorial crew jumping from buildings to escape smoke and flame preferring a quick death.

We knew this was just the beginning. Airplanes bombing a desert wasn't going to appease Americans. A generation of young men were donating blood at the Red Cross and then standing in line to enlist.

Terrorism scored three out of four that day. They delivered fear. They abruptly halted the decade of economic growth we'd come to enjoy. Suddenly, Americans were afraid for the first time since the Cold War and attacked for the first time since Pearl Harbor. Warfare came to the mainland for the first time since Lincoln freed the slaves.

This was a new world. It was one I've never known.

A few days later we went to the doctor. An ultrasound revealed that in fact, our efforts have been rewarded twofold. We were having twins.

Days after despair we suddenly were overwhelmed with joy and hope. Our future wasn't any more certain, but our hope was alive.

As a look back I wonder if we would've made the same decisions. If the planes had hit days earlier, would we have still wanted to go through with the treatment. If we found out earlier that we were pregnant with our hope have turned to despair rather than despair to hope.

Looking back today with the benefit of hindsight, I know now that my children would be raised in a time of great unity rather than shrouded in fear. The terrorists lost the war. Their goal was to tear down America, and a strengthened us.

America is far from perfect. Our leadership is indecisive and splintered. Our economy is overwhelmed by consumerism and capitalist agendas. The Internet has amplified the voice of the vocal few sometimes drowning out the quiet many.

But we are united. We are less tolerant of hatred and inhumanity. We think more globally.

By and large we look for ways to cooperate rather than obliterate.

Today I'm sure that my children are growing up in a better world than I could have expected. It's an imperfect world, but evolving for the better.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Romantic Text Message

An elderly couple had just learned how to send text messages on their mobile phones. The wife was a romantic type and the husband was more of a no-nonsense guy.

One afternoon the wife went out to meet a friend for coffee. She decided to send her husband a romantic text message and she wrote:

"If you are sleeping, send me your dreams. If you are laughing, send me your smile. If you are eating, send me a bite. If you are drinking, send me a sip. If you are crying, send me your tears. I love you."

The husband texted back to her: "I'm on the toilet. Please advise."