Reader, she married him. The day after he was indicted on a charge of aggravated assault for knocking her unconscious.
I would say allegedly knocking her unconscious, but there’s no doubt: Janay Palmer — now Janay Rice — was out cold after Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice unleashed his left hook on her.
Anyone who had bothered to go to the video of Rice dragging a limp Palmer would have known this — back in February, when TMZ.com posted the first footage from the Atlantic City casino. This week’s revelation, security video from inside the elevator, made undeniable that obvious precursor: the punch itself.
“It’s something we saw for the first time today,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday. “It changed things, of course. It made things a little bit different.”
How, exactly? The feckless, enabling, see-no-evil National Football League and the feckless, enabling, see-no-evil Ravens management preferred not to ponder what it takes to knock out a human being. Instead, they wrist-slapped Rice with a two-game suspension, bespeaking the seriousness (not) with which they took the incident.
“The whole video needs to be reviewed,” Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said in February. Except it wasn’t, and Newsome’s comments back then help explain why. “Right now, I feel very good about his side of the story,” he said of Rice.
Much of the latest commentary about Rice has focused on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and properly so. I’d add to the mix of villains the Atlantic County prosecutors who let Rice avoid a trial and possible jail time. Instead, Rice was allowed to participate in a pretrial diversion program that features counseling and the chance to have the charge dropped and eventually expunged.
New Jersey, it seems, takes domestic violence less seriously than kicking your dog; those charged with cruelty to animals aren’t eligible for the diversion program.
Another villain: Ravens management, which underplayed the seriousness of Rice’s conduct and engaged in a blame-the-victim defense, lumping Rice and Palmer together as co-perpetrators, in need of couples counseling.
“The two people, obviously they’ve got a couple of issues they have got to work through,” Harbaugh observed. Excuse me, they don’t have issues to work through. He’s got an issue to deal with.
“Embarrassing for him and his fiancee,” said Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti. Embarrassing? For Rice, try obviously criminal. For Palmer, try potentially lethal.
But in Ravens Nation, Janay Rice is an integral part of the problem. Consider the May 23 news conference in which Rice apologized to “everyone who was affected by this situation that me and my wife were in” — except, naturally, his wife.
Who was sitting by his side, looking like a captive in a hostage video and behaving accordingly. “I do deeply regret the role that I played in the incident that night,” she said, in a comment that the Ravens promptly tweeted out. (The video shows her slapping Rice outside the elevator and coming toward him inside.) See? He was provoked.
Janay Rice is the most tragic, and the most puzzling, figure in this sordid episode. On Tuesday, she took to Instagram to lash out — at the media.
“To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret everyday is a horrible thing,” she wrote. “To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his ass off for all his life just to gain ratings is a horrific. . . . Just know we will continue to grow & show the world what real love is!”
It is difficult for someone who has not been a victim of domestic violence to understand how she could stand by her abuser. It is difficult for someone who is an expert on domestic abuse to believe that this could be the only such episode.
“Even I, as a former victim, I’m tempted to say she’s pathetic she’s staying with him. But we’ve got to stop ourselves from doing that,” said Leslie Morgan Steiner, whose book “Crazy Love” recounts the ugly cycle of violence and apology in domestic abuse.
“She loves him just like I loved my ex-husband even at the bitter end,” Steiner told me. “I see somebody who is in denial about how much danger she’s in, which is the most common thing that victims feel.”
I feel for Janay Rice. But I think she should look at #WhyIStayed on Twitter and realize: She is the victim, not she and the dangerous man she married.