The actual people from our latest cartoons: We hope this may be one of our last posts on the Ray Rice matter.
That said, the weirdly unfocused discussions just keep humping along. Now, we’re arguing about Bill Simmons, who has always struck us as dim, and also about Hope Solo.
We aren’t discussing that federal judge. The truth is, everybody really enjoys discussing the NFL.
To us, these discussions have rarely made any real sense. They’ve rarely taken any discernible shape.
Today, we thought we’d share two recent profiles of the people in the center of this storm. They’ve been toys in our latest cartoons. What are they really like?
Monday evening, Erin Burnett offered a profile of Janay Rice:
BURNETT (9/22/14): Tonight, we're learning more about the victim in the attack, Janay, from those who know her best. Suzanne Malveaux is Outfront.Within minutes, Carol Costello was telling us, word for word, exactly what Rice’s friends should be telling her now, as opposed to what Costello imagines they’re currently doing. Here’s the one key fact we’ve learned from this case:
MALVEAUX: Janay Rice is neither a punching bag nor a punch line.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE #1: I know Janay to be very kind. To be very smart, intelligent.
MALVEAUX: For Professor Sandy Nichols and others who taught Janay at Towson University, she is not simply the woman in the elevator.
NICHOLS: A very sweet and motivated student. And she just worked really hard to do her best.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE #2: We are thinking of her as a one-dimensional character, that she is the wife of Ray Rice, that she is a victim of domestic violence. Those do not define who she is. She is a mother, a friend, a committed student.
MALVEAUX: That Janay, according to friends who know her, is anxious to get her life back.
ANITA MARKS: On Sundays, game day, getting ready, going to the stadium. Sitting with the rest of the wives, cheering on her husband. That life as they know it has been taken away.
MALVEAUX: Anita Marks got to know Janay and Ray Rice personally when she co-hosted a radio show with the former Ravens running back in Baltimore.
MARKS: They were a young couple in love.
MALVEAUX: Before she was Janay Rice, she was Janay Ashley Palmer, a girl from the New York suburb of Mt. Vernon.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE #2: She was the president of the student council at her high school which was an exclusive, all-girls Catholic high school.
MALVEAUX: Ray attended nearby New Rochelle and they kept in touch in college. Their first purported date was at a Cheesecake Factory. In 2008, Ray was drafted out of Rutgers by the Ravens.
MARKS: She followed him to Baltimore. He put her through school.
MALVEAUX: According to Marks, the relationship turned unstable.
MARKS: It got very toxic, it got very unhealthy.
MALVEAUX: Janay threw herself into her studies, earning a degree in communications and becoming a proud mom, often seen pushing her daughter in a stroller from class to class.
DARCEY MORRIS, TOWSON PROFESSOR: She really perhaps wanted to be seen on her own merits, and her own work without being associated all the time with a celebrity.
MALVEAUX: For graduation, Ray proposed with the ring and a new car. Since the elevator incident was exposed, the two have rarely be seen in public. Only recently venturing out to a football game at Ray's old high school. Sources close to the couple say they are leaning on each other.
MARKS: That NFL family is no longer there for him. He has to turn to someone or something. And he's turned to Janay.
MALVEAUX: Friends say they are thriving from counseling but with all the attention, they're having difficulty trusting people.
BURNETT: Suzanne, just hearing how the friends would describe her, the things they've said. I mean, what have you said about how she's feeling about this entire incident? About the fact that she keeps seeing the video playing on TV?
MALVEAUX: Yes, you know, there are a number of takeaways here, Erin, because in talking to friends and associates, they essentially, they're hunkered down now at home. They're watching movies. They have a small inner circle of supporters. You got a few Ravens players who call Ray, and the Lady Ravens, the wives, who called Janay.
And while he's feeling he's been cooperative with the NFL and since demonized, Janay still feels badly like she in some part played a part in tearing Ray down. And one of the toughest things, Erin, that they're dealing with is losing their identity. They were so wrapped up in the Ravens franchise. They even named their daughter Rayven, after Ray and the football team. Well, they got to let that go.
They're also very concerned about the day their daughter will see the elevator altercation. And one thing they are hopeful about is that they do believe that Ray is going to play again.
A lot of people in a very protective circle right now. Not a lot of people talking publicly. They feel very protective of this couple and they really need to get in front of this. And they're just still through it in the beginning stages of all this.
BURNETT: Wow. Suzanne, thank you very much. An incredible look at what's going on with that couple right now.
Carol Costello knows everything!
Concerning Ray Rice, we were struck by one part of last Friday’s ESPN report. In this passage, Don Van Natta explains the way the Ravens viewed him:
VAN NATTA (9/19/14): To understand why Ravens executives rushed to defend Rice, who had his worst year as a pro in 2013 with an average of 3.1 yards per carry, one needs to consider how important he had become to the franchise in general and, in particular, to Bisciotti.Remember, that is from the ESPN report which was aggressively used to hang the Ravens brass high.
No player did more for the community than Rice, and no player on the team embraced the city of Baltimore the way he did. Rice named his daughter, Rayven, after the team's nickname. He had the “Baltimore” tattooed on his forearms. He became friends with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, appearing with her regularly at charity events. He raised millions for sick children, urged the state legislature in Annapolis to pass anti-bullying laws and hosted a football camp for hundreds of disadvantaged kids each year. He even dressed up as Santa Claus at an event hosted by the House of Ruth, a Baltimore shelter for victims of domestic violence. During the week before the Super Bowl this year, two weeks before the incident, Rice appeared on an anti-bullying panel. Perhaps most visibly, Rice was the longtime spokesman for M&T Bank, one of the team's main sponsors and one that has its name on the Ravens' stadium. Practically every time Bisciotti asked Rice to make an appearance on behalf of the team, he'd say yes.
That report was widely discussed on cable last Friday night. We saw no one discuss the part of the report we’ve posted. By rule of law, you aren’t allowed to make our cable cartoons more complex.
Why is Ray Rice actually like? Why did he punch his fiancée?
We don’t know the answers to those questions. That’s why we have the Carol Costellos—to make up answers to these and all other questions.
We’ll leave you with a few other questions: How should you treat a person with a sterling record when he does something like Rice did? Was the court in New Jersey right to treat him as a first offender?
Should we try to help Ray and Janay Rice? Or should we just hang him high? Also, Roger Goodell!
The press corps is full of muscular souls who turn to punishment as their first move. Final questions:
How can we best help people learn to avoid doing things like this? Must we turn to punishment first? Must we assemble yowling mobs to chase witches through the streets?
In fairness, it’s good for cable ratings, as Janay Rice unwisely said. Could it be that Edie Dugan had a better idea?