The long-awaited press conference with Raymell Mourice "Ray" Rice of the Baltimore Ravens took place Friday. For those unaware, he's our local football star who, several months ago, got into trouble by slugging his soon-to-be wife at a casino in Atlantic City. He has been placed in a pre-trial intervention program that will, if completed properly, leave him with a clean record in the eyes of the law. There is still a possible suspension from the National Football League to consider, but they have a huge backlog of these things to deal with, you understand.
The press conference was really more like a statement; Ray took no questions and there was no elaboration beyond what he said, which was that he was sorry for his fans and partners. Then his wife read her statement apologizing for her role in the brouhaha.
But he did not apologize to his wife. And Twitter and Facebook lit up about that. They seemed oddly distant for newlyweds, truth to tell. No handholding, not even eye contact. Other comments tossed around on Facebook were that he seemed awkward for having stashed his talking points on his phone, requiring him to fool with the phone at the podium (his wife printed out her points.)
And - the team's general manager, the great Ozzie Newsome, urged Rice to hold off until Tuesday, when Newsome and coach John Harbaugh would be in town to stand by him. Nope, he wouldn't do that.
From a public relations standpoint, this was not handled well. A good counselor would have worked with Rice to point out how bad it would be to label the whole incident as "this thing that happened to me." No, sir. You did it. No one thinks that a ghost plied you with liquor and made you start slapping your woman down to the ground. Which brings up another point: Ray said several times that he failed in this episode but was not a failure because he got back up after being knocked down.
Poor choice of terminology, Ray. "Knocked down" is what you did to your woman, the mother of your daughter.
What makes me sad is that we're all talking about how it will affect the Ravens if the league suspends Rice for a few games and not how there is not a gigantic silo of shame over his head for being drunk and disorderly in public, and most awfully, assaulting his fiancée.
In his first five years with the Ravens, Rice set up a website to help school children deal with bullying and gave away a fortune in school supplies to hard-working teachers. He was loved all over town, then.
It will be interesting to see how many #27 jerseys we see all over town this fall. Everyone is entitled to make a mistake, but there are mistakes and there are MISTAKES.