First, the NFL suspended Ray Rice for two games. Then video came out, which the league pretended it hadn't seen, and the NFL suspended Ray Rice indefinitely. Last we heard, the NFLPA and Rice were still waiting on an official explanation from the league, which was pretty strange. The NFL has to at least tell a guy why it's banned him, right?
It appears that the NFL's official stance for changing its Rice punishment (and completely ignoring its "new" domestic violence policy) is that Rice lied to Roger Goodell and other league bigwigs in his description of what happened in that elevator.
OK. Let's unpack.
- If this weren't just a post-hoc justification for a CYA move, it would have been announced with Rice's suspension four days ago. Instead, Goodell said to CBS on Tuesday that "what we saw [on the tape] was extremely clear, extremely graphic, and it was sickening. And that's why we took the action that we took yesterday."
- Even if the NFL hadn't seen the tape, they knew what was on it. There was a criminal complaint that described the assault accurately and in detail, and loyal NFL reporters had sources who had seen the video.
- Thus, the NFL is retroactively claiming that the reason it came down with a universally-derided two-game suspension in the first place is that it ignored hard evidence in favor of a first-person account given by the person accused of committing domestic violence. This is the league's actual excuse!
- The NFL is now claiming that Rice's real violation, which increased the suspension from two games to an indefinite number, was that he minimized the severity of his crime while trying to save his job. Ray Rice is a fucker, but the NFL can't possibly think it can get away with giving him extra punishment for the crime of defending himself. Can it?
The NFLPA, which as far as we can tell is run by a guy who is actually Roger Goodell in a wig, has three days to file an appeal. Rice appears to already be laying the groundwork for that appeal, with "four sources close to Rice" telling ESPN that he "told the full truth to Goodell." Earlier this week, by the way, Ravens executives said Rice's description of the incident to them was exactly what the video showed.