Foul Play: Edition 4
We’ve all seen the footage. First there was the video of the star footballer dragging his fiancee from a casino elevator and dropping her on the carpet like a sack of spuds.
Weeks later, we were shown what transpired in the elevator, the thrust of Ray Rice’s fist that rendered Janay Palmer unconscious.
It prompted weeks, months of discussion and shed an unequivocal light on the blight of domestic violence in sport — and in the NFL in particular.
Except it never happened. We imagined it all. Take a look at Rice’s record — it’s clean.
Last year, Rice was accepted into a pre-trial intervention program. It didn’t simply reduce the penalty for his aggravated assault. It got rid of the charges altogether. David Copperfield couldn’t have pulled off a better disappearing act.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the intervention program is not generally available to perpetrators of violent crime and should never have been offered to Rice.
“The message sent by these actions is that perpetrators of domestic violence will not be held accountable for their crimes,” it said.
As for what was required of Rice during his year-long program, details are a bit sketchy. A bit of anger management here, some pocket money in fines there. But Rice shed some light in comments to the Baltimore Sun earlier this year.
“Really, I just have to call the state of New Jersey once a month,” he said. “That’s the only little burden that I have. I don’t have anything to do but call and confirm some things with them that I’m not getting into any trouble. It’s a real basic phone call and they give me another date for the next month.”
Sounds tough, doesn’t it? But he’s yet to find a team prepared to take him on. Which is punishment of sorts, I guess.
As much as the Rice scandal was a wake-up call for the NFL, there are a number of teams that seem to have slept through the alarm.
Three years ago, Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider declared:
“We would never take a player that struck a female.”
But early this month, the Seahawks drafted Frank Clark, who was charged six months ago after his then girlfriend, Diamond Hurt, claimed he struck her in the face.
No problem, said Schneider. “We have done a ton of research on this young man,” he said. “I would say there’s always two sides to a story. You can’t just go with one police report. You have to talk to everyone that’s involved. Everybody.”
In other words, Schneider reckons the assault never happened. Despite photos of Hurt’s wounds to her face, neck and hip. Despite witness accounts, including one from a female hotel manager who says Clark threatened to ‘hit you like I hit her’. As for talking to everyone involved, the Seahawks didn’t even bother contacting the victim.
The Seahawks could perhaps learn from the Chicago Bears, who’ve had to release Ray McDonald before he even played a game after he was arrested on domestic violence charges.
McDonald was dropped by the San Francisco 49ers just five months ago after, you guessed it, allegations of domestic violence and sexual assault. The Bears took him on despite those allegations. What’s that expression about reaping what you sow?
Also in this fourth edition of Foul Play, read about the female cricketers who had to perform sexual favours to keep their place in the team. And the sexual harasser placed in charged of a women’s basketball team. Yep, seriously.