The Baltimore Ravens didn’t have much to say about Ray Rice on Monday, aside from a tweet announcing that his contract had been terminated following TMZ’s release of a video showing the running back knocking fiancée Janay Palmer unconscious in an Atlantic City casino elevator a few weeks before their March wedding. After initially suspending Rice for just two games, the NFL is trying to show it’s tough on domestic violence, but it seems Ravens coach John Harbaugh didn’t get the message. In a press conference on Monday night, he told reporters that he has “nothing but hope and goodwill for Ray and Janay, and we’ll do whatever we can going forward to help them as they go forward and try to make the best of it.”
When the initial two-game suspension was announced in July, the Ravens expressed sympathy for Rice. General manager Ozzie Newsome commented, “That night was not typical of the Ray Rice we know and respect,” saying that they didn’t believe he would “let that one night define who he is.” Harbaugh added, “The thing I appreciate about it is how Ray has handled it afterward by acknowledging it was wrong and he’ll do everything he can do to make it right. That’s what you ask for when someone does a wrong thing. So, I’m proud of him for that.”
On Monday night, Harbaugh said that even after seeing the longer video, he doesn’t regret praising Rice. “Everything I said in terms of what I believe, I stand by. I believe that still,” he said. “We’ll always stand in support of them as a couple.” He added, “My pain is for both of them as a couple.”
Many have questioned why the all-powerful NFL was unable to obtain the longer surveillance video, and why the league was surprised by what it saw, since it had footage of Rice dragging his unconscious fiancée out of the elevator. Harbaugh declined to answer several questions about the NFL’s response, and Rice’s reaction when he met with him this afternoon, but he emphasized that the Ravens hadn’t seen the longer video. “It’s something we saw for the first time today, all of us, and it changed things of course, it made things a little bit different,” he said.
The White House also weighed in on Monday evening, after Press Secretary Josh Earnest was caught off guard by questions about President Obama’s reaction during his daily briefing this afternoon. Obama was far less sympathetic than the Ravens’ team leaders:
The President is the father of two daughters. And like any American, he believes that domestic violence is contemptible and unacceptable in a civilized society. Hitting a woman is not something a real man does, and that’s true whether or not an act of violence happens in the public eye, or, far too often, behind closed doors. Stopping domestic violence is something that’s bigger than football - and all of us have a responsibility to put a stop to it.