Ray Rice's Case Changed How the NFL Handles Domestic Violence

Surveillance video of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking his then fiancée unconscious focused new attention on domestic violence and how the NFL handles it.

“I don't compare my case to anyone else's, but I do know that there’s a visual to mine, so it changed the conversation,” Rice said.

The visual -- video of Rice hitting his future in a hotel elevator in Atlantic City -- made news across the country and put the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell squarely in the spotlight with respect to domestic violence.

“We strongly, strongly condemn and will punish behavior that is totally unacceptable,” Goodell said at a September 2014 news conference.

Initially benched for two games in 2014, Rice was suspended indefinitely from football by the NFL after the videotape was made public in September 2014. Later that year he appealed his suspension, and it was lifted, but he hasn’t played since.

Rice's case was just one of a number of reported cases of domestic violence in the NFL, and the league has faced intense scrutiny, and often intense criticism, for how it has or has not sanctioned players.

In 2014, as a result of Rice's case, the NFL announced a wide-ranging domestic violence initiative, calling for a six-game suspension for a first offense and a lifetime ban for a second offense.


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“I do know that now they have policies they're following and they're stricter, and I would love to work with them down the line on furthering, the conversation,” he said.

Former D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier, just took over as the head of security for the NFL.

“As the chief I've had to deal with – many, many times -- officers involved in domestic violence, officers involved in misconduct or even being arrested,” Lanier said. “And although we're a profession that’s held to a higher standard, that’s held accountable 24 hours a day for the image of what they represent, even though we're police officers and wear uniforms, we’re people like everybody else, we’re people and people are fallible.

“The NFL is no different,” Lanier said. “Football’s our favorite sport, right, and people look up to football players, they represent so much for us, so I appreciate the challenge of how do you deal with that as an organization, but you have human beings that are people like everybody else that make the same mistakes that everybody makes.”

Rice, whose aggravated assault case was dismissed after he completed a program for first-time offenders as part of his plea agreement, said he learned from his mistakes and wants to help others, especially other players, avoid the ones he made.

“If I'm going to make a difference, I have to make that difference every day of my life,” he said.

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