Ray Rice does not deserve recognition from Rutgers
In light of yesterday’s release of a video showing Ray Rice knocking his then-fiancée Janay Palmer out cold, it is time for Scarlet Knight Athletics to cut its ties with Rice and remove him from Rutgers football history. For starters, remove Rice from the pre-game video showing RU alums currently playing in the NFL.
I was at the Rutgers-Howard football game this Saturday, and I was shocked to see Rice was still being promoted in the introduction video displayed on the big screen. I was even more shocked that the Rutgers fans in attendance roared in approval for him. I suppose that prior to the most recent video, the evidence surrounding the domestic violence incident was not entirely clear-cut and there was some degree of doubt about what exactly happened inside that elevator. I still think that Rutgers Athletics should have removed Rice from the introductory video for at least two games, mirroring the initial two-game ban that he received from the NFL.
However, the damning evidence is now public, and we all know what happened, and there is no doubt that Rice is guilty of savagely striking a woman half his size, a woman he purportedly loves. The Baltimore Ravens have terminated Rice’s contract, and the NFL has indefinitely suspended him. It’s time for the University to terminate our relationship with Rice as well.
I will never forget the excitement of the 2006 and 2007 seasons when RU football, thanks in large part to Rice’s contributions, finally put decades of futility behind them and burst onto the national scene. There were some pretty awesome games, and there’s no doubt that Rice was a great football player. Our society loves sports and loves to make heroes out of athletes. It’s fun and generally harmless to make someone out to be a local or national hero because of their skills on the playing field. But we often forget that some of these “heroes” are just men or women who happen to be good at a sport, and have no special heroic qualities off the field. In Rice’s case, some of us chose to ignore the evidence presented in the initial video to concoct whatever story we needed to convince ourselves that Rice is a good guy, that surely there were extenuating circumstances that led to him dragging his unconscious fiancée out of an elevator at a casino. But the new evidence shows conclusively that nope, Rice is just a violent jerk who happens to be an excellent football player.
Let’s remove Rice from the pre-game ceremonies at future football games. Rutgers football is a family affair, and many alumni bring their spouses and children to share in the fun and tradition. Let’s not make anyone have to explain to his or her son or daughter why people are still cheering for Rice when he hits his fiancée. With 50,000 fans in attendance, odds are at least several hundred of them have been victims of domestic violence themselves. Let’s not make them stand around awkwardly while the rest of the stadium cheers and claps for a violent, abusive man. We’re playing Penn State next week — a team that learned the hard way that putting football up on a pedestal can have horrible consequences. Let’s not make excuses to try and avoid having our “legacy” tarnished, whatever that means. Some things are more important than football.
Thomas Radtke is a 2011 Rutgers alumnus.