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No Video Means No Outrage
Author: Gregory Clay
Photo By: TMZ Sports

Ray Rice

It happened several years ago on Bill Maher’s late-night network talk show, “Politically Incorrect.” Rapper-actor-so-called activist Ice Cube essentially surmised during the panel: NFL players are violent on the field so don’t expect them to be non-violent off the field.

The audience applauded as if Peyton Manning had just tossed a 70-yard touchdown pass in the Super Bowl. That wasn’t a good sign. Perhaps it was a sign of celebrity worship or rapper worship or ignorance worship. With that, many were repulsed that numerous Baltimore Ravens fans --- including several women --- wore Ray Rice jerseys to the Pittsburgh Steelers-Ravens game on the night of Sept. 11.

Remember, this was a mere three days after the release of an explosive video of Rice punching out his then-fiancee in an elevator.

But, in our society, genuflection is an art form. Many fans and spectators will support an entertainer/athlete no matter how smart or stupid, no matter how upstanding or vile, no matter how humane or offensive said entertainer/athlete is.

That explains why serial domestic abuser Floyd Mayweather still garners a huge fandom, especially from those who buy his overpriced pay-per-view fights.

And there is the “No Video Defense.” Mayweather told CNN’s Rachel Nichols before his latest fight that since there’s no video of him, then everything is hearsay. Call it playing us for naivete.

And there is the “Our Jerk” defense. Ray Rice may be a jerk, but he’s our beloved jerk, many Ravens may rationalize. I hate your jerk but don’t mess with our jerk. Call it staking out territorial rights.

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson may be the next NFL star to be vetted for weeks in the Courts of Public Opinion and Media Frenzy when he was indicted in Texas on Sept. 12 on a charge of reckless or negligent injury to a child. Is that domestic violence in the NFL vernacular?

Suffice to say, this is shaping up as a most chaotic football season --- off the field.

Furthermore, there is another sinister element at work here. Some black men employ a degrading stereotype to justify beating up black women. The Stereotype: They say black women tend to be too loud and too mouthy and too confrontational and too back-talking and too sassy. And they say she shakes her head side-to-side in defiance one time too many.

Therefore, as this irrational thinking goes, she deserves a good beatdown to keep her in her place.

If you think those homegrown attitudes don’t permate pro and college football, you are delusional. The NFL employs approximately 1,700 players. If Ice Cube’s logic were sound, then 1,700 guys would be incriminated for domestic violence. But 1,700 guys aren’t annually accused or arrested for domestic violence.

So, Ice Cube’s philosophy is utterly ridiculous.

Still, the NFL and college football have had a domestic violence problem for years. Any sports media person who denies this factoid, quite simply, is lying. According to The Washington Post, 56 players have been arrested --- including some multiple times --- for domestic violence since Roger Goodell became NFL commissioner in September 2006. Of those 56, excluding the current Ray Rice Case, players involved were suspended for a combined 13 games. And only 10 players were released by their teams.

But domestic violence in football isn’t just about the NFL. Examine college football. Florida State quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston is being investigated by the university in connection with a sexual assault case involving a fellow student from 2012, according to The New York Times.

Yet, lets go back 20 years with Ray Lewis, former Baltimore Ravens linebacker and current NFL analyst for ESPN.

The following was published Feb. 2, 2000 by the Baltimore Sun after Lewis had been arrested in connection with a double-murder investigation during Super Bowl Week in Atlanta. This passage takes you back to his college life among the palm trees in South Florida:

“Lewis has long been a lover of the night life and is no stranger to the law. At the University of Miami, he twice was investigated by Coral Gables police after allegations of battery. Each incident involved a woman pregnant with his child. Lewis was not arrested or charged in either incident.

“The first incident took place Oct. 9, 1994, when (Tatyana) McCall accused Lewis of pushing her, striking her in the face and putting his hands around her throat during an argument.

“McCall, pregnant with Ray Anthony Lewis III at the time, was Lewis' girlfriend and a student at Miami. She told police she went to Lewis' dorm room to get a necklace and two videotapes, then became involved in an argument when he said he didn't have the second tape. The incident was classified as a misdemeanor simple battery.

“McCall declined to press charges.

“The second investigation took place after a Sept. 12, 1995, incident in which ex-girlfriend Kimberlie Arnold said Lewis grabbed her shoulder during an argument, shook her and scratched her arm. Arnold, also a student at Miami, went home to Atlanta to recover. According to the Miami Herald, she also complained that police tried to protect Lewis.

“After a four-month investigation, the Miami-Dade state's attorney's office concluded that it did not have sufficient evidence to pursue the case.”

Translation: There was no video.

These episodes occurred 20 years ago during Lewis’ college days. They also further exemplify that domestic violence isn’t just an NFL problem. It’s also an NCAA problem.

But, strangely, during this nearly year-long outrage toward domestic violence in the Ray Rice case, college football has escaped the pocket of national criticism.

In 1996, after all the tackles, sacks and girlfriend issues at the University of Miami, what happened to Ray Lewis? He was rewarded with his name being called as the 26th player picked in the first round by the Ravens in the 1996 NFL draft.

Lewis was lucky. Why?

Again, there was no video. No video means his statue greeting you at the Ravens’ stadium is safe and secure as the face and imprint of the franchise.

The case of serial abuser Lawrence Phillips, a former star running back at the University of Nebraska, is a bit different. Then-Nebraska coach Tom Osborne maintained a reputation beyond reproach during his illustrious tenure at the great football factory in the corn country of Lincoln. Perhaps that’s why he played the troubled Phillips despite the running back’s major issues. Defense by reputation, perhaps.

The Denver Post, in a 2012 commentary, picks up the story from here:

“But the one event that stands out (for Osborne) came in 1995 when star tailback Lawrence Phillips was arrested for assaulting his ex-girlfriend. “Osborne only suspended him for six games. He came off the bench halfway through the year, then Osborne started him in the national championship game where he ran for 165 yards and two touchdowns in a 62-24 romp over Florida.

“Osborne claimed kicking Phillips from the structure of the football program would do him more harm than good. I said putting him behind bars would do him more good than harm. What did the coddling do for Phillips’ well being? His series of subsequent arrests — assault with a deadly weapon, auto theft — that began in his ill-fated pro career is too long to list here. Maybe Phillips can summarize them during the 31 years in prison he was sentenced to in 2009.”

Though he eventually met his come-uppance with substantial prison time, Phillips, nevertheless, followed Ray Lewis to the first round of the ‘96 draft. And with a better showing as Phillips was the sixth player chosen overall, by the St. Louis Rams.

What do Ray Lewis and Lawrence Phillips have in common? Their domestic violence incidents fomented in college during the 1990s. So when we say pro and college football have long had domestic violence issues, the evidence speaks volumes.

And with both Lewis and Phillips, we saw Athletes Privilege, but we didn’t see any video.


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