Colin Dunlap: Make A Real Statement About Ray Rice
So you’re mad.
But all you’re going to do is be mad. Most likely, you won’t do anything about it. There will be no action, no call to mount up, no true deed that you undertake with an eye toward making real change.
All you’re going to do about Ray Rice is be mad — and continue to spend money on the National Football League.
When the latter happens, Commissioner Roger Goodell and his band of leaders with the league office care little about the former. Really, they don’t.
You see, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice received only a two-game suspension for allegedly assaulting his then-girlfriend (now wife) and then dragging her unconscious body along the floor and out of an elevator of an Atlantic City casino.
It all seems so inequitable, doesn’t it? Especially because it’s right there on tape.
When you measure Rice’s suspension against the five games Terrelle Pryor got from the NFL for getting some ink in college or the six-reduced-to-four that Ben Roethlisberger got from the league for never being charged with anything, “inequitable” is what comes to mind.
But my inclination is that the source of your anger isn’t as much some sympathy for the victim, but rather that your team didn’t realize as much of an advantage as it could have. Simply put, the enemy in the division should be made to sustain deeper consequences for one of their players going rogue.
Let’s say you have true compassion for the victim, however — then we will get back to the original point: What are you going to do about it?
My proclivity is not a damn thing but get mad.
You see, there was a line of people four hours before the gates opened at the first public Steelers practice over this weekend. A line of people such as that, waiting to see a team practice, doesn’t necessarily tell me the brand of the NFL is hurting any in the aftermath of the Ray Rice incident.
Want to do something gallant?
Something to truly force change or at least attempt to force change?
Perhaps you should write a letter to the commissioner’s office explaining how morally corrupt his decision pertaining to Rice was. Do it. Sit down and write an old-fashioned letter to New York.
How about taking it a step farther? Why don’t you cancel NFL Sunday Ticket or not buy that jersey you were thinking about grabbing off the merchandise website?
Here’s an idea — call your local franchise and tell them you don’t want your season tickets anymore. Tell them what you tell your friends at the bar: That you’re disgusted with the behavior of the players but, just as much, disgusted they aren’t made to pay enough of a penance when they drag a woman out of an elevator.
I bet you won’t do any of that.
Again, you’ll just get mad.
All talk, no action.
And you will continue to spend money on what has become, in a way, America’s intoxicant of choice so many can’t kick — the NFL.
There might have been nothing more delusional in the aftermath of the Rice episode than his head coach, John Harbaugh calling what the running back did “a mistake.”
For me, “a mistake” is when you forget to roll the car windows up and it rains or you get off the wrong exit on the highway. What Rice did isn’t — and never will be — categorized as “a mistake” by me.
But it was to Harbaugh.
And that cuts deeper into what is at the heart of this whole thing for the NFL.
It is seemingly a culture where transgressions are minimized because the importance of the players in this league is so artificially maximized. The synthetic importance of these guys will continue to be augmented — with no sign of slowing down — until the football consuming public does something more than simply get mad about the type of situation like the one involving Ray Rice.
Until that happens, King Goodell’s Big Bad Machine will keep rolling along, separating you from your money and caring little about public relations as long as that cash register is ringing.
So get mad all you want about Ray Rice. Get madder than hell.
But just be sure to get through that turnstile in time to nestle into your seat for the 1 p.m. kickoff.
Just be sure to grab that $11 beer on your way to your seat.
Just be sure to buy all those jerseys off of NFL.com and one of those nifty little flags for your car with the logo of your favorite team on it.
As long as that all continues to happen, get mad all you want — but King Goodell’s Big Bad Machine will continue to push on, fueled by your money.
Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weeknights from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his bio here.