Photo Credit: Esther Lin/SHOWTIME
We are all a work in progress, and by no means, I have found, does age equal wisdom.
I found myself thinking this when I heard what Floyd Mayweather said Tuesday when asked at a media event what he thought bout the Ray Rice situation. For those in a boxing bubble, Rice is the NFL player who was busted for assault, after he knocked out his then fiancee, now wife, Janay Palmer on Feb. 15 in New Jersey.
Rice was arrested and indicted for third-degree assault, after he and Palmer were both arrested at Revel Casino in Atlantic City. Thanks to the tabloid website TMZ, the story spread, and public outrage grew, as 99.9% were horrified to see the running back dragging the unconscious woman out of the elevator. A similar percentage of people were mightily surprised when Palmer and Rice were married on March 28.
He got off with a wrist slap, as his team the Ravens suspended him for the first two games of this season. The charges were dropped as Rice pled not guilty to assaulting the lady, and he has been attending a program to attend to such violent behavior. But the matter didn’t melt away into the morass of misbehavior featured regularly on TMZ. Luckily, that organization kept on working the story, and secured video, which spoke louder than our imaginations and reports from authorities and self serving statements from the billionaire boys club that is the NFL did. The video showed the couple in the elevator, Palmer walking towards Rice, and Rice delivering a left hook which knocked her out.
His fiancee. Knocked her out.
The other shoe dropped, and hit NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who not incidentally was paid $44 million dollars last year for his presumed competence and wisdom and wise stewardship, on his Guccis. Public and press scorn was ubiquitous when the smoking gun video came out; the NFL backpedaled, and tried to act contrite. Rice has been suspended indefinitely And I think Roger “Go To Hell” Goodell should be fired, definitely.
This brings us back to our shared addiction, the fight game. As you can imagine, such incidences of domestic violence, which might seem unfathomable to many of us, who can’t even imagine striking a “loved” one, let alone going there, are not a rarity among boxers. Not a surprise, I suppose, as the sport attracts an element which tends to commit such acts more than people who grew up in an atmosphere and in a place of privilege and guidance which made that behavior less likely to come to fruition.
The sport, like football, is an exercise in contained and basically structured violence, wherein the aim of many of the participants is to render the opposition insensible. Thus, we can’t all act with such naivete as to think that sometimes there could be blurring of the lines, instances where the activity and behavior which is condoned and rewarded on the field or in the ring bleeds into the off field existence. We never excuse, it goes without saying, we but of course don’t condone, but we should be able to see that nothing occurs outside of a wider context. But no one, it seems, in their right mind, would be giving Rice anything resembling a free pass. Which is why Floyd Mayweathers’ statements on Tuesday, when he was asked about the Rice situation, are galling.
Hey, we get it. We don’t live in a context free space. We get that our system can’t grind to a halt because someone effs up.The show, the money flow, must go on. The more “important” you are, most often, the more your space in the show will be held for you, even if you eff up, because ability to generate revenue is correlated with worth and importance in our system. Rice, who signed a five year contract for $35 million in 2012, is important to the Ravens. As Floyd Mayweather is important to boxing. He makes a minimum of $33 million or so per fight in his six-fight deal he signed with Showtime. The economic impact of his fights and his presence isn’t negligible and thus, he is treated accordingly. His status as a revenue-churner didn’t keep the man from being convicted of assault, though, back in 2012, stemming from a horrific incident involving the women who birthed three of his children. He was sentenced to three months and served 8 weeks of that in a Nevada facility from June to August 2012.
My hope for Mayweather, me as a person who himself seeks out positive role models to look toward to aid in my own quest to act in a “correct” and decent way, and as representative for the sport which I hold dear, has long been that I hope he sees the light.
For himself, for his family, the kids, for the sport, everything…
Bragging about gambling, and the contract, and the cars, all that stuff, I don’t care for it, because those are messages contrary to what I believe are the things that really, truly matter. But you don’t come here to read me moralize, and, further, that doesn’t mean that I am not sometimes entertained by his posturing.
Also, refer back to what I said about us not expecting too much, us expecting the fighters to act as assassins in the ring, and angels outside of it. So, in light of my hopes for Mayweather, who turns 38 in February, I was, yes, disappointed in his statements on the Rice deal. If you missed them, here’s what went down. Reporter Tim Smith, during a media scrum, asked Mayweather what he thought about “the news of the day,” the Rice situation. The boxer took a gulp of water, and swam to the deep end. “You know, I wish him nothing but the best,” said, and then cracked a joke about “that Warren Buffet coke” as an aide handed him a soda.
“When all is said and done, I wish something positive out of it…I’m not here to say anything negative about him, things happen, you live and you learn, no one is perfect.”
OK, nothing insensible there, even if my first reaction is that maybe most peoples’ first reaction is sympathy not for the striker, but in fact, the person who was struck.
Next, he talked about how he thought the Raven should have “stuck to their word,” and their initial two-game suspension. To be fair, Smith asked him to comment on that aspect of the Rice deal, so if you thought it strange that he so quickly veered toward that element of the story, rather than the bigger picture issue, there is a reason he took that route, the money route.
He made sense when after ESPN’s Dan Rafael asked for clarity, if the Raven should stick with the two game ban, as opposed to cutting Rice, Floyd said he tries to be a better person every day. He said he did see the video,and Rafael served him up a softball which he could have hit out of the park, could have shown that he’s on the right track to being that better person. He could have answered in a way to show people that the past misdeeds are history, that there will be no more accusations or such, Rafael termed the video “kind of disturbing.”
Floyd paused, as I prayed for him to do the right thing. He…didn’t.
“I think it’s a lot of worse things that go on in other peoples’ households also,” he said. “We just don’t get to see them,” said Rafael. Floyd stammered and said, “it’s just not caught on video….I wish Ray Rice nothing but the best.”
OK, that answer is disturbing, more than kind of. It is neither here nor there that horrid stuff occurs in other peoples’ households. This could be a matter where Floyd is hanging out with a brand of people where such behavior is commonplace. And while kayoing your fiancee isn’t the most heinous of crimes, I feel sad for the person who is immune to the seriousness of the act, and apparently dismisses the assault because of the prevalence of similar actions in others’ residences. A minute plus in, and Mayweather still didn’t mention Palmer, and continued to stick up for Rice, the assaulter.
He showed most sympathy, over all, for the footballer, and focused on the lost income. He then did say that he thinks the loss of vocation is hurtful to Rice, and his wife, so he did in fact refer to the victim.
Rafael asked if he thought he’d be kicked out of boxing because of his “situation.”
Mayweather was again handed the ball, and, many if not most would argue, fumbled it. He referred back to his insistent explanation that he was mistakenly found guilty, because the woman he assaulted, Josie Harris, wasn’t bruised or cut. He tried to compare and contrast, noting that Chris Brown and OJ Simpson’s and Ochocinco victims both showed the effects of being struck. “You guys have yet to see any pictures of a battered woman, a woman who claims she was kicked and beat,” he said, presumably referring to Harris. “I just live my life, try to stay positive, try to become a better person each and every day.”
Me too. Part of that, a large part of that, is trying to be patient, to help see all sides of a story or situation. So, I have to ponder, what if Floyd was wrongly convicted? My answer to my self query is, the man has a lengthy record of domestic assault situations. Where there’s smoke…Also, you might recall, last May, a Yahoo story referenced a police report from the Mayweather-Harris fight in which the writer, Martin Rogers, saw a statement from Floyd’s then 11 year old son, who told cops that he “saw my dad hitting and kicking mom.”
Hey, do police tell the truth all the time? Nobody does. But do you see the plausibility in there being a fabricated written statement from an 11 year old boy? We’re talking a JFK assassination level of sinister plotting if that were the case. It reminds me of athletes hit with allegations of PED usage who counter by saying, “I never tested positive.” Er, OK, would you not rather say that you unequivocally never used PEDs, rather than rely on the weasely lawyer response? Would Floyd not rather say ‘I never hit or kicked that woman’ rather than saying that the absence of evidence is evidence of innocence?
It appears someone spoke some sense to “Money,” told him his comments weren’t playing well, or, who knows, maybe he had his own pangs of conscience. But the next day, he was on his bike. “If I offended anyone, I apologize,” he said to a gaggle of reporters after the Wednesday presser at MGM. “I apologize to the NFL,” he said, noting he wasn’t perfect. “I am only human. Domestic violence is something I don’t condone.”
OK, I guess we take what we can get. I would to have liked to hear a more in-depth, more thoughtful apology, paired with some additional insight into the whole mess. But I think it would be hard to pull off, because Mayweather has to feel a kinship with Rice, in that both have been punished for something everybody finds appalling. We can only hope that, as always, some good comes of this sad soap opera. We hope that some eyes get opened, and some people somewhere get the message and cut the crap. Violence against loved ones, of any gender, is nothing but wrong. No excuse. Don’t talk provocation, or lack of video, or lack of evidence in the form of bruises. Just cut it out, abusers, get yourself some professional help, and do the right thing. And if we don’t speak up, all of us, who cover him, who work for him, who televise him, that’s on us. To be silent is to silently condone, is it not?
END NOTE: I reached out to Showtime, and asked for an official comment regarding Mayweather, his Rice comments, their association with him, and their stance as a corporation on the fighter in relation to his legal history. I await a response and will add it to this story when I receive it. I think it is important we hear that, because I’d like some clarity on how MY SPORT deals with this subject. I like to think we do the right thing more often than given credit for, and I think, to this point, we have all not given enough thought and attention to the negative history the sports’ biggest star has in the arena of using physical force against past and present significant others. All of us can can “try to become a better person each and every day,” like Mayweather said on Tuesday, but he is the standard bearer of the sport and people, rightly or maybe wrongly, look up to him…it is incumbent upon him to finally get it, and do it. I continue to hope he sees that light, and his behavior reflects that going forward.