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Posted September 16, 2014

 Travelers, to op/ed piece in PDF format

Roger Goodell, Ray Rice, Janay Rice, and Holy Hell Matrimony


By Arelya J. Mitchell, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief

The Mid-South Tribune and the Black Information Highway

If Roger Goodell loses his position as NFL commissioner over the Ray Rice vs. Janay Rice Elevator Theater, he may very well be like the cop who intervened in a domestic violence dispute between husband and wife and ended up pushing up daisies.  And guess what? After the cop has been buried six feet under, wifey and hubby will rush lovingly into each other’s arms while the cop’s widow(er) cries at the funeral with their children short of a parent.  The couple will continue this cycle drawing more victims into their web of holy hell matrimony.

Of course, Ray Rice should not have knocked Janay out cold, but apparently he knocked her into amnesia because she quickly forgot that he did it then dragged her out of the elevator as if she were a corpse not even bothering to call 911.

One has to wonder what’s love got to do with it? (Echoing Tina Turner).

Outside of the outrage and manic calls for  zero tolerance regarding this prize fight in the elevator, there is an equal outrage when one attempts to utter the question of why did Janay Palmer decide to walk down the aisle with the bastard after he’d knocked her a few steps from Kingdom Come? But I’ll get back to this in a bit.

First of all, I don’t believe in a Zero Tolerance policy. That is about as much of a sick joke as a One-Hundred Percent Tolerance policy—and can be about as brutal in enforcement. But I’ll get back to this, too, in a bit.


            Everyone is on a media seesaw of whether or not Goodell saw all of the TMZ/police- provided tapes.  And if he did, why didn’t he dish out a meatier punishment to Ray Rice? Oh let me go ahead and say the unpardonable with utmost political incorrectness: Whether Goodell saw the tapes or not should be placed in another frame to get a more realistic picture. 

            That fancy frame is called MARRIAGE. And one might even subtract a few letters and call it a mirage, because no one really knows what’s going on inside this venerable institution which sometimes has the illusion of being something it is not.

 I am willing to bet my best wig that this wasn’t the first time Rice has used his wife for helmet practice, and I am sure someone in both their respective families knew of incidents and probably tried to talk to them out of continuing this relationship.


Then Goodell gets dragged in this situation called marriage which is probably worse than any situation he’s been in since he took the throne of commissioner in the land called NFL.


Marriage is not so easily dealt with as matters such as Jonathan Vilma (whom Goodell overly punished when Vilma demanded that the NFL prove the charges brought against him), or his stiff punishment of New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton or when he dealt with the Miami Dolphin crybaby who wept because some white boy called him the N-word (a situation where one 300 pound-plus player bullied another 300 pound-plus player), or Michael Vick and the dogs.

But in the Rices’ case, Goodell is actually behaving like an average person.


            Now how will the average person behave after he or she sees such a tape then learns that the fiancée instead of calling off the engagement chooses to put on her lovely white gown, invites over a slew of guests, and walks down the aisle with a man who has beaten the hell out of her -- all this within a span of a day or two of knocking her out.  Sometimes these average human beings are invited to such weddings when they know of or have witnessed such domestic violence with said couple.  They’re there with eyes bucked wondering how such a couple could tie the knot but choose to hold their tongues when the minister asks if anyone objects to the marriage.


Yes, one gets suspicious how quickly Janay Palmer Rice walked down the aisle then did a ‘stand by your man’ press conference with Rice. Suspicious of what?  That this was an attempt to save Rice’s career on behalf of Rice himself and herself. Losing $40 million and a slew of Nike commercials can put a dint in a young couple’s lifestyle of the rich and infamous. Hopefully, Janay had enough sense to get an ironclad prenup agreement which can guarantee her a great lifestyle if d-i-v-o-r-c-e happens or a good burial plan if he gives her the fatal blow. Either way, she might do well to meet with both an attorney and a mortician (and yes, I am being dead serious, pun intended).

 To reiterate this is about domestic abuse inside a marriage, and those who saw the first Godfather movie know that Sonny got riddled with bullets when he rushed over to defend his pregnant sister whose husband was beating the crap out of her. Sonny didn’t make it, and in the end of this domestic dispute, his sister went back to hubby and stayed with him until Michael had him strangled.



Should Goodell have Ray Rice strangled?


There have been cases of women who knowingly go into and remain in marriages and willingly take beatings so they can remain Mrs. V.I.P. Now how do you explain them?

Again, marriage is a different beast. Historically it is understood that there are certain grounds of holy matrimony that both church and secular laws protect such as a wife cannot testify against her husband or vice versa or that divorce is a sin or a wife must ‘obey’ and submit to her husband and all the other concoctions of excuses to accommodate domestic abuse. Yes, this Rice marriage may be as perverse as she may love him, but she may love his pocketbook more; he may love her but he may love beating her more to empower some sick ass ego.

 This brings us back to the aforementioned paragraph regarding the outrage of how dare anyone ask Janay Rice why she chose to walk down the aisle with Ray-Ray? Why many are equating this question with ‘blaming the victim’ when in fact it is a legitimate question and she should answer it.  She did not file charges of assault and battery or whatever other charge she could have thrown in the legal kitchen sink.

Goodell might have felt a little more empowered to act stronger had the former Miss Janay Palmer not married Rice a day or two or less or whatever fraction of a time frame after the elevator drama?

All of which is to bring out the point that Goodell is not a marriage counselor, he is not a minister, he is not the law. He’s about as bewildered as many, thinking that if she married him maybe the two straightened out everything as obnoxious as it was. Yes, there should be a Domestic Abuse policy in the NFL corporate code of conduct, but even with such a policy, marriage remains a murky area fraught with legalities, moralities, and religiosities which no man (not even Goodell) can safely put asunder.


As for any Zero Tolerance policy, that can be abused as much as those who abuse, and it has been when one looks at cases where a six-year-old boy can be accused of sexual misconduct and kicked out of first grade because he kissed his little girl classmate; or a teenage girl takes an aspirin and gets suspended from school with the same severity as one who took cocaine. Zero Tolerance in the public school system has been implemented more to punish Black boys than white boys for the same violations or to punish Hispanic and poor white children.

 In extreme cases one thinks of Emmett Till who was tortured for whistling at a white woman which was apparently against Jim Crow law!! This was a race-based Zero Tolerance policy which immediately called for the castration or downright killing of any Black male glancing at a white woman (e.g.  a sort of “To Kill a Mockingbird” syndrome) or another case where a Black woman cried rape and an entire lacrosse team of white boys was suspended and some of its members kicked out of school only later for the public to discover that she lied simply because no one bothered to ask her ‘why did you go back inside to get your purse after you’d been raped?’ I remember thinking of this question because I knew no woman in her right mind would return to a place where she’d been raped to get her purse? She might return with a shotgun or the police but not to retrieve her purse.  And then one looks at super stars Rhianna and Chris Brown who seem to be lovey dovey after he painted her face black and blue which didn’t come from makeup. And those who had involved themselves or gotten themselves dragged into their mess have every right—let me repeat—every right to ask her ‘why is she so cozy with him now? Why has she gone back into his arms?’ I am sure she would say that it is ‘none of the public’s business’, which is essentially what Janay Rice is espousing on her Twitter, Facebook, or whatever social P.R. media account where she is begging for the public’s understanding. I don’t understand it. To be blunt at this stage of whatever game they’re playing, I don’t even care to understand it, because there are real victims out there trying desperately to get out of dangerous relationships.

Like it or not, Goodell is part of that average Joe (or Josephine) who just might not understand as well, but wrings his hands in frustration because he is damned either way he goes; he is like the cop who got caught in the middle only to get his head blown off; he is the relative or friend who waits for that call from the emergency room or morgue because they have tried everything in their power to help. 

In the history of my life as a journalist, I have seen on occasion both men and women make accusations about each other abusing the other just to get the other into legal trouble.  Such deadly games can be played inside marriages; thus, giving a bad name to true victims of domestic abuse and violence.

Even after punishment by law or the proverbial public lynching or job suspensions or the guilty verdict from the court of public opinion, there is a type of woman who runs back to these men who abuse them.

Yes, I use the word ‘type’ because there is also the other ‘type’ of woman who doesn’t take this crap, who doesn’t tolerate it or who fights back as best she can. These are real victims of abuse and should not be blamed. These are the lost voices with only a Tina Turner serving as a role model of a woman who went through hell before getting away. She left with a gas credit card and a few pennies, and never went back. Turner had less legal protection then than what women have now. There are some women who still cannot get away because the men are tracking them down to get revenge or to inflict on them some other abuse one can only imagine or not. Funds, counseling, and jobs should be provided to aid and abet these women in getting away.


            With all due respect, those who are screaming for Goodell’s head should advocate for women who are really going through hell, who can’t afford legal aid, who have no place to go. Ray Rice should make a sizable contribution to them, even if I believe that he is feeling more sorry for being caught than for knocking out his now wife. And now that NOW has the NFL by its balls, it along with the National Council of Negro Women (the oldest Black women’s organization in the country) should use this predicament to develop in conjunction with the NFL a comprehensive program for these rich boys to learn to keep their fists to themselves.

            What there should be is a Common Sense Tolerance policy. Any case of domestic abuse should be done on a case by case basis.  To further stretch the point: That catchall zero tolerance policy is about as fair as cutting off a person’s hand who stole a loaf of bread instead of finding out ‘why’ he stole the loaf of bread: from hunger or because he felt like it. Either way, losing your hands does not fit the crime. And having said that, someone needs to ask Rice ‘Why?’ before they condemn him to a career of no return like in forever. There have been many stories in the rumor mill such as she allegedly spat on him and he reacted or that she came at him first and he reacted.


Make no mistake: I am neither on Rice’s side nor on hers. As a man, he should have never put his hands—hard fists—on her; as a woman she shouldn’t have walked down the aisle with him practically within a 48 hour period. Bottom line: The real problem is in this couple which believed marriage could offset a violent relationship which could more than likely escalate.


But like so many who have involved themselves or gotten caught up in such holy hell matrimony, Goodell has found himself in a mess of trouble which rhymes with ‘hit’.











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