UPDATE: The Baltimore Ravens have released running back Ray Rice after video emerged of him punching his then-fiancee in an elevator. The NFL has additionally suspended Rice indefinitely.
The video is, in a word, nauseating.
Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice steps into an elevator in an Atlantic City hotel with his then-fiance, Janay Palmer. Some sort of argument ensues.
Rice strikes Palmer, who then strikes him back. Palmer comes toward Rice, who responds by punching her with his left hand, knocking her unconscious. When the elevator doors open, he drags her body out. The link to the video is here, but be warned: You'll want to throw up after watching it.
From the start, the response to this incident has been disgusting. First from prosecutors, who watched that video and decided to give Rice the opportunity to avoid formal prosecution by entering into a pretrial diversion program. If Rice completes the one-year program, his third-degree charge of aggravated assault will be dismissed. How is that possible after watching that video?
Then from the Ravens -- who must be the most tone deaf organization in all of sports.
If victim blaming weren't bad enough, the Ravens' senior vice president of public relations decided to publish an article titled "Why I like Ray Rice."
This came in July -- on the SAME DAY the NFL announced a two-game suspension that would have been laughable in its leniency, if it weren't so offensive.
Commissioner Roger Goodell, who went silent in the weeks after the suspension was announced, finally came to his senses late last month. In a letter to NFL owners, he said "I didn't get it right," in regards to Rice's suspension.
He continued: "My disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment, and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families. I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future reflect our values."
It's a good first step, but after watching that video, it's not enough.
Late this morning, the NFL released a statement saying it hadn't seen the footage from inside the elevator until today.
"We requested from law enforcement any and all information about the incident, including the video from inside the elevator," the statement, published at Pro Football Talk, reads." That video was not made available to us and no one in our office has seen it until today."
That shouldn't matter.
Did Goodell think Palmer knocked herself out?
The justice system and league have already failed in this case. The calls for Goodell to resign have already started. There is a certain irony to a commissioner who made a point to install a stern personal conduct policy in the NFL eventually being forced out by failing to enforce that policy in the most embarrassing way possible.
The only party left in this case with a chance to make things right is the Ravens. The team is seemingly precluded from punishing Rice any further by Article 46, Section 4 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and its players. It reads: "The Commissioner and a Club will not both discipline a player for the same act or conduct. The Commissioner’s disciplinary action will preclude or supersede disciplinary action by any Club for the same act or conduct.
If the Ravens hadn't viewed today's video, unlikely since Rice's lawyers would have had access to it, it's possible they could attempt to suspend him based on the new evidence.
Either way, this issue isn't going away. At some point, the Ravens will have to do something. If the team can't lengthen Rice's suspension, they can do what they should have done all along: Cut him. Yes, there would be financial implications to such a decision. Such a move would create a cap hit of nearly $10 million next year.
Given that they've virtually condoned Rice's actions to this point, cutting him seems unlikely.
But it's the only way of ensuring a more just punishment for Rice's despicable act. The courts and NFL have already handed out their punishments -- awful as they are.
Someone with the Ravens -- owner Steve Bisciotti, I'm looking a you -- now needs to grow a spine and do what's right.