After video footage leaked of Ray Rice striking his wife twice in an elevator, the second of which knocked her head into the elevator rail, knocking her unconscious, Rice was ostracized from his team, the league, and now the popular video game series. My only question to Madden, The Ravens, and the NFL, and anyone else observing the news unfold from the outside: What took you so long?
This is a positive step. Ray Rice has no place in the NFL, a league that produces role models and sets standards of conduct for the rest of its players. Ray Rice has no place in Madden, a series where these players are glorified beyond the scope of the real world. But he wasn’t removed from Madden 15 and the NFL because of these reasons. They removed him because leaked video footage forced their hand.
And what did the video footage change? Before the video footage, we knew Ray Rice knocked out his wife in an elevator. After the video footage we knew … well … exactly the same thing. This same sentiment had many people (not the least of which was myself) upset at the idea that Ray Rice’s beating of his wife was only legitimate once we saw it on tape.
In case you’re lost, here’s a timeline:
February: Ray Rice was caught on tape dragging his unconscious fiance out of an elevator. The two were taken in for domestic violence.
In July (yes, it took five months), Rice was suspended by the NFL for two games. In the NFL, that’s half of the first-offense drug violation suspension.
August: the NFL announces a new policy on domestic violence, promising a six-game suspension for the first offense and a lifetime ban for the second offense. This did not increase Rice’s suspension.
September: The video footage from inside the elevator leaks, and everyone acts like it’s a new revelation that Ray Rice knocked his wife out.
The Ravens released him within hours, little more than a month after the team’s head coach John Harbaugh said “I stand by Ray Rice.” He knew what happened when he said that, and we’re supposed to believe he had some big epiphany when he saw the video like “oh THAT’s what domestic violence is??!! We should do something about this!”
And now all EA is doing is making sure none of this new-found outrage gets pointed at them, when the truth is they should have removed him the moment this came out. But they didn’t; EA removed him because they feared the immense pressure that would have followed had they not removed him.
But where was that pressure before the video? Yes, Madden should have acted sooner, but the gaming press should have demanded it. In the recent times in video game journalism, with many stories tackling the issue of feminism and misogyny in video games, hardly any even took issue with Ray Rice’s appearance in Madden 15. Apparently, glorifying a domestic violence abuser is less important than the new Assassin’s Creed game not having a female character.
Don’t let EA treat this as a moral victory. They only did what they had to, and we deserve better from our video games. And now they’ve sent a strong message to survivors of domestic violence that video evidence is the standard of proof. For instance, 49ers player Ray McDonald is facing a domestic violence charge, but that incident was likely not caught on video. Don’t assume Madden will be getting rid of him any time soon.