Robert Siegel talks with ESPN writer Kate Fagan about the firing of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice. He was let go by the team on Monday after a video was released that appeared to show him hitting his then-fiancee in an elevator in February.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
From NPR News this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
We've known for a while that pro football player Ray Rice punched, knocked out and then dragged his future wife out of an elevator in an Atlantic City casino, but today you could see what took place that night last February. The website TMZ released a video that shows Ray Rice punching Janay Palmer inside the elevator. The Raven's head coach John Harbaugh that the team's management saw the video today for the first time, and decided to fire Rice.
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JOHN HARBAUGH: I had a chance to talk to Ray this afternoon, after we did it. And, you know, I have nothing but hope and good will 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.
SIEGEL: The National Football League announced today that it has suspended Ray Rice indefinitely. A few months after the February incident, there initially wasn't very much punishment. Rice was suspended for two games. Earlier today, I spoke with ESPN's Kate Fagan in New York, and I asked her why it took a video for Rice to be fired.
KATE FAGAN: I think before that video came out, there was a lot of people who could construct their own narrative about what happened inside that elevator before the initial video started, which was him getting out and dragging his then-fiancee.
So I think, the NFL, in a lot of ways - and the Ravens included - could hide behind what that narrative might have been inside the elevator. There was obviously also blame put on his then-fiancee that maybe she contributed to the incident. So I think now with this new video surfacing, it's pretty black and white about what happened. And the NFL and also the Ravens in a lot of ways - their arms are twisted.
SIEGEL: She was then his fiancee - they later married, after that. Is there anything in the NFL contract that could keep Ray Rice's career alive?
FAGAN: Well, I'm sure he's now in a position where he needs to apply back into the NFL. And he needs to appeal as well because the NFL's suspended him indefinitely and that's the position he's in now.
So certainly, you know, we've seen in previous situations - with Michael Vick in dog fighting; after he was released from prison that he was able to be reinstated into the NFL - so there's certainly precedent for Ray Rice to do the same sometime down the line, but, there are going to be a lot of hurdles for him to jump through, both within the NFL as well as socially and in the media before that day comes.
SIEGEL: The Carolina Panthers have Greg Hardy, who was found guilty of assaulting his former girlfriend. He threatened to kill her. The 49ers have Ray McDonald playing for them. He's facing a felony domestic violence charge.
And there have been others. What about them?
FAGAN: I mean, the NFL has long had a problem with violence and domestic violence as well. We can even cite the incident with Javon Belcher of the Kansas City Chiefs, which was a year-and-a-half ago.
I think what we're seeing right now though, is sort of a collision of a number of things that - the media, Ray Rice's status as a superstar in the league and how much attention this has drawn and also the issue of domestic violence in this country at the moment.
So it's a collision of those things and I think it has led to the termination of Ray Rice's contract by the Ravens, as well as the indefinite suspension from the NFL.
SIEGEL: And yeah, that indefinite suspension means that even if some other team didn't care and wanted to sign Ray Rice, they couldn't do it right now.
FAGAN: Correct. Correct - as long as the NFL has suspended him indefinitely, he cannot sign with a team without the NFL reinstating him, which is a process.
SIEGEL: Kate Fagan - thanks for talking with us about it.
FAGAN: Thanks for having me.
SIEGEL: Kate Fagan of ESPN talking with us about today's news, the termination and indefinite suspension by the National Football League of Ray Rice. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.