Rice was indicted for third-degree aggravated assault following an incident where he cold-cocked his then fiancé, now wife.
Despite an initially dubious response—a mere two game suspension—the NFL has been forced to save face by indefinitely suspending Rice following TMZ’s release of the video of the incident to the public. In layman’s terms, Rice is gone and not coming back, and the NFL is better for it.
Now, given that Rice has become an image for all things domestic abuse, it would seem that no one wants him representing their products.
All Rice-related items have been removed from the NFL store, Nike has terminated its contract with the player, Dick’s and Modell’s are pulling Rice-themed jerseys from their shelves, Vertimax has dumped Rice, and, as of the Friday update, Rice has been removed from the Roster of “Madden 2015.”
Rice is merely the latest in a string of athletes to be removed from video games, following the likes of Aaron Hernandez in Madden 25 and Alex Rodriguez in MLB: The Show ’14.
However, I’d really like to hope that this is the start of a trend, because there’s something different about this incident compared to the others.
Aaron Hernandez was removed following his indictment for the murder of Odin Lloyd and the double homicide of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado. This event happened of the free will of the NFL looking to separate itself from a source of bad reputation.
Alex Rodriguez was removed after he sued the MLB following a suspension on doping charges. Once again, an action of free will on the part of the MLB.
Something different happened with Ray Rice’s investigation.
The NFL made no effort to find out the truth of what happened that night in February, calling the footage from the outside of the elevator of Janay Palmer being dragged out of the elevator “ambiguous,” while not contacting the casino at which the event occurred for the footage from inside the elevator.
The incident had been successfully swept under the rug until TMZ Sports decided to do some digging. Monday morning, TMZ released footage from inside the elevator that showed Rice punching Palmer in the head hard enough to knock her out cold.
Here’s where the difference really begins.
People were furious.
Fans have been vocal about how unacceptable this kind of behavior is, and have caused the NFL to indefinitely suspend the athlete.
This is the setting of a precedent.
The public has made it known that they will not support misogyny and domestic violence. The reactions of EA, Dick’s, Modell’s and many other organizations show that this message has been received.
What this hopefully means is that the NFL, and other such sports organizations, will err on the side of caution in future situations like this, and, at the very least, investigate the incidents.
This could be an important step in creating a more inclusive and safe American sports community.