Forget about whether a two-game suspension is enough.
The Ray Rice story is about a man and his wife and his little daughter at home that one day might ask her parents about an incident that occurred in 2014. It’s about a man who made a mistake, one he can’t ever take back and may never be able to live with. It’s a relationship between two people, that despite receiving attention from an entire country continue to live their lives together, hoping to move past it for the sake of love.
When Rice addressed the media on Thursday, he spoke as a man, not an NFL running back. He’s a man who committed the most regrettable mistake of his life — and knows it — but can’t do anything to change the past, only try and control his future.
For what it’s worth, I do believe Rice’s actions are deserving of a punishment greater than a two-game suspension. It should require sensitivity training and marriage counseling, and perhaps a hiatus from the game if need be. Comparing it to Josh Gordon‘s 16-game ban for marijuana use hasn’t even popped into my head, because the two are separate issues.
But while Gordon is appealing his suspension, Rice is trying to fix his public perception by being overly honest about the incident.
“I made the biggest mistake of my life,” Rice said Thursday. “My actions that night were totally inexcusable. That night I replay over and over in my head. That’s not me. My actions were inexcusable. That’s something I have to live with the rest of my life. The pain I’m talking about living with is waking up every day, and my daughter is 2 years old now, and I have a little girl, who’s very smart, very intelligent, and one day she’s going to know the power of Google, and me having to explain that to her, what happened that night.
“There are many nights that me and my wife sleep together and we still have to deal with this. And her pain is my pain, my pain is her pain, the one thing I wanted to do today is you know apologize to my wife … I’m just trying to move forward from it. I don’t condone it. I take full responsibility for my actions. What happened that night is something that I’m going to pay for the rest of my life.”
But you know what the biggest takeaway from his speech was — the fact that Rice is completely honest when he admits the severity of his acts. Rice makes no secret about the pain he deals with every single day. More than anything, he cares more about getting the forgiveness of his wife, Janay, rather than that of the media.
That’s all that matters. At the end of the day, it’s a man and his wife, and whether they can proceed with their marriage and the relationship that began back when they were teenagers. And if she can forgive him, there’s no reason why the rest of the nation shouldn’t be able to do the same.
This issue is way bigger than football. It’s more than just a debate over how long his suspension should last. It’s about whether Rice can grow from this, better himself and better his relationship with Janay.
On Thursday Rice appeared humbled. He was hurt, honest and a man with his priorities finally in line. He knows his family comes before football, and we should all be behind Rice as he tries to do right.