On Monday TMZ released the video of Ray Rice knocking his wife, Janay Rice, out cold. What happened between them on that elevator was not a secret. We, the general public, knew he had knocked her out. Both parties had confirmed it and declared they were moving on, together. Regardless of our opinions about the situation, the couple had made it clear that it had happened and they were over it.
The public didn’t really “need” to see this video of the knockout punch. We had seen more than enough when we witnessed the second half of the video where Ray Rice dragged Janay, like she was an animal, out of the elevator and across hallway and then left her there. We didn’t need to see anymore.
And yet the ever omnipresent TMZ (I mean seriously TMZ knows when you’re going to die before you do) decided six months after the incident occurred, one day after the NFL’s Sunday kick-off season, one game suspension (out of two) down for Ray Rice – to release the video that includes the knockout punch. The questions we must ask are: how long has TMZ been sitting on that video? Why release it now? And what was the point?
You cannot tell me for a minute it was because they care about the situation, that they are crusaders against domestic violence, or because they think that Ray Rice got two game suspension punishment was unfair. And you definitely can’t tell me that they care about Janay Rice, and by extension Black women and our plight, our experience of being abused by men who claim to love us. No, they wanted the clicks, the hits that this video would garner.
And what of the NFL for saying this is the first time they have seen the entire video and because of it Rice is now indefinitely suspended and no longer playing for the Baltimore Ravens? I’ve watched enough “Scandal” and “Ray Donovan” episodes to know that when dealing with these kinds of difficult situation, high-profile cases, there is always a fixer. A clean-up person. I find it hard to believe that no one within the NFL organization saw the entire video when the police made it clear that they had footage of the entire video.
To the point that no one from the NFL saw the footage, TMZ Executive Producer Charles Latibeaudiere, was interviewed on Fox Sports 1 late Monday, and said that someone from the NFL traveled to the Atlantic City hotel and viewed the surveillance video in its entirety.“We have spoken to multiple sources at Revel Casino, which of course is now closed, but we’ve spoken to people who were working there at the time,” Latibeaudiere said. “And we are assured that someone from the NFL — it wasn’t Roger Goodell walking in, we know that — but there were people from the NFL who came and saw the video. So now the question becomes how much of that information got back to Roger Goodell, and did he ever see an actual copy of the video?”
Right. Someone made a judgment call that as long as no one else saw the video, then everything would be fine.
But let’s imagine for a minute that no one from the NFL organization really saw the video, they still had the facts. They knew that Rice had knocked his wife unconscious. They saw the video where he dragged her. And they still hit him with a two game suspension. Their first reaction spoke volumes and said: a Black woman getting beaten does not matter. Football matters. The player matters. Domestic violence? Doesn’t matter.
It was only after the public (this is the major point) saw the video in its entirety that the NFL took swift and decisive action. And that’s not because they care, it’s because they don’t want the headache. If they had not responded in this way then there would have been protestors at the gates and demands for sponsors and advertisers to cease all ties with the NFL. The pressure would have come fast and it would have been heavy.
TMZ wanted the web clicks and hits which translate to dollars and the NFL didn’t want the headache which translates into potential profit loss. It was just business as usual in America and a Black woman got knocked out and dragged in the process.
Diana Veiga is a Spelman woman, a DC resident, and a freelance writer who loves cute shoes and sparkly things. Follow her on Twitter: @dianaveiga