The NFL has come under fire for suspending Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice just two games after he allegedly knocked his wife unconscious in a casino elevator in February.
Many believed the punishment was too weak, but a source shed some light on why that might be. The MMQB.com’s Peter King reported Monday that Rice’s wife, Janay Palmer, who was his fiancee at the time of the incident, pleaded with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to go easy on the Raven.
Palmer reportedly told Goodell during a June 16 hearing “that the incident in the hotel elevator was a one-time event, and nothing physical had happened in their relationship before or since.”
King’s source added that Palmer also asked Goodell “to not ruin Rice’s image and career with his sanctions.”
While King listed other reasons as to why Rice’s punishment was so light, his now-wife’s “moving and apparently convincing case” was said to have influenced the decision, but perhaps she shouldn’t have been put in that situation.
“Even having the two of them in the room and thinking that she can speak freely in that kind of a situation is crazy,” Rene Renick, vice president of programs and emerging issues with the National Network to End Domestic Violence, told Deadspin. “There is no way she can speak freely. And if there was any chance that she was afraid or coerced, she couldn’t have said that. She would have been probably in a whole lot of danger.”
Palmer has stood by Rice’s side since the indictment, but Renick added this was an opportunity for the NFL to make a statement, which it failed to do with the two-game suspension.
“Ultimately, no matter what she says, it’s the NFL’s job to hold their players accountable and say real clearly that this is not all right,” Renick said. “This is not OK behavior.”