Friday, August 1, 2014

4 comments Peter King Does His Explaining About His Lack of a Point of View Regarding Ray Rice

Peter King wrote this column last Thursday and the reaction at his lack of a reaction was pretty swift. The column seemed pretty light-handed and missing the typical (for better or worse) Peter King reaction that his readers have been used to. Peter always tends to give his point of view on a subject, especially a political or moral topic, which is why I was surprised he didn't really address his column in MMQB this week. Peter enjoys giving his point of view. It turns out Peter was saving his reaction to the reaction of his column for his Tuesday mailbag. I don't usually cover Peter's mailbag but figured I would this week since it was the elephant in the room in his MMQB.

Peter ran..................................three emails (that felt like fun to make you think for half a second that Peter ran, I will carry on now) that he felt represented the public's reaction to Roger Goodell's decision of a two game suspension for Rice, as well as reflected feelings about Peter's column regarding Rice and then Peter responded.

Here's a sample of the three responses Peter ran.

I have been reading your columns for as long as I can remember, and this one stands out as the single weakest piece of writing you have ever had. I don’t need you to explain why the NFL made this decision. Fans are stakeholders in the game, whether or not the NFL sees it that way. Millions of fans funnel billions of dollars into the hands of a few in the NFL, and women are part of that fan base...

You let the NFL off the hook, and I’m not sure why. I hope the women that follow you find somewhere to spend their Monday mornings. You don’t work for the NFL.

When something this blatantly wrong comes up, say something. I don’t want to read about lattes and IPA’s. You took the low, easy road. Unless you agree with the suspension.


I disagree slightly that Peter's lack of a reaction means he agrees with the suspension. I know how a person could come to that conclusion, but I have more of a problem with Peter's lack of a reaction in that he ALWAYS has a reaction to social issues such as this. He's Mr. Gun Control. So I figured when it came to violence against women he would have a stronger reaction to Rice's suspension. Normally, a writer's lack of a reaction could mean nothing, but Peter loves giving his opinion, so no reaction leads a person to the conclusion he agreed with the suspension. Still, it doesn't necessarily mean he agrees. It's just out of character to not give an opinion on the topic.

Peter, I have read your articles for years, and I think that you are a good writer who has become too wrapped up in NFL politics and too close to the players/management to give an opinion piece of the magnitude of the Ray Rice suspension. The article lacked the emotion your pieces like those about the Vick dogfighting ring held when your opinion wasn’t as tethered to your career as it is now.

Perhaps next time you will hand off the duties to someone who will have the conviction to stand up against what is wrong here—the NFL slapped Rice on the wrist after he knocked out his fiancée. The silent approach would have been a smarter move for you than this tepid fluff piece. Guess I will be getting my coffee and beer tips elsewhere. It’s been a good run of over a decade. Good luck in the future.

—Daniel, Long Beach, Calif.

I don't know. The whole "I'm done reading your columns" thing seems a bit odd to me as well. If this person had really read Peter for a whole decade he would know that Peter has been accused of having his opinion tethered to his career before the Vick dogfighting ring issue came up. I mean, at least hate-read Peter's columns. That's fun to do.

I have been an avid reader for years. I do not always agree with your opinions but feel that you have a level of integrity that seems to be lacking in most other major media writers... I have a 7-month-old daughter and have had my eyes opened regarding how deeply I can feel about someone. As a father, I was hoping to hear you take a stand about the NFL dropping the ball in regards to the two-game suspension. If that was one of your daughters I believe your reaction would have been one of incomprehension and disgust instead of the neutral perspective that you seem to have given.


One thing that causes me to roll my eyes a bit is the whole, "I have a daughter so I have a deeper meaning..." type of statement. It's as of a parent who only has sons could not understand how domestic violence can hurt a woman or gives that parent lesser insight into the effect domestic violence can take. If a person is a human being, whether that person has sons or daughters, I think it's pretty easy to sympathize and understand the severity of domestic violence. Simply having a daughter doesn't give one greater insight into why domestic violence, specifically against women, is disgusting. I'm glad you love your daughter, but a person who has a son can also have his/her eyes opened as to how deeply he/she can feel about someone.

The three most important people in the world to me are my wife, Ann, and

Brett Favre. Just kidding.

daughters, Laura and Mary Beth.

I wonder if Peter's wife knows about Ann? Again, kidding, it's just funny how he wrote "my wife, Ann, and my daughters." It makes it look like his wife and Ann are two different people.

For that reason, and for human decency ones, I understand the incredulous reaction that I did not assail Goodell’s decision in the story.

Peter has two daughters, so he has double the insight into why domestic violence is bad compared to "JMS." Peter wins.

Let me explain why I wrote what I wrote late Thursday for posting overnight on The MMQB: I was at Ravens’ camp on Thursday when the story broke. Immediately the world was filled with vitriol for the decision—columnists and commentators and fans voicing outrage, mostly, that a player who smokes marijuana regularly can get a four-game ban while a player who strikes his wife gets two. Through the day it went on.

Well, it doesn't make a ton of sense that a player can use drugs and get a longer ban than a player who commits an act of violence. An act of violence has a definite victim, while the use of marijuana doesn't always have a victim.

On Twitter, I said I thought Rice deserved a four-game ban but I understood why Goodell settled at two.

Then on Twitter when confronted with the fact this didn't make sense to many Peter got defensive and acted like he was the victim.

And in my story, I explained why: Palmer, now his wife, told Goodell in a mid-June hearing that Rice hadn’t raised a hand to her before or since;

For me, this is typical Peter King ignorance. Let me run down the list of issues with the whole "Palmer told Goodell that Rice hasn't raised a hand to her before or since" statement that seems to have mitigated Rice's suspension.

1. My understanding is Ray Rice was in the room when she was asked the question. If Palmer is an abused spouse she will obviously lie while in Rice's presence.

2. Even if Rice wasn't in the room, which he was, Palmer would still potentially lie about whether the abuse had happened in order to protect him. Victims of domestic violence are often the most vehement person arguing in favor of their abuser.

3. Lying about whether the abuse has happened before or since is standard behavior for victims of domestic violence. They lie to justify their actions in staying with the person and so their abuser doesn't get in trouble with the law or any other way. It would make perfect sense that if Rice beat Palmer every single night, except Sunday, that she would lie about it. It's part of the script for victims of domestic violence.

4. Even if Palmer said Rice had not raised a hand before or since, it shouldn't fucking matter. Who cares? The punishment handed down by the NFL shouldn't be based on whether the victim of Rice's actions forgives him or not, it should be based on the action itself. Should Greg Hardy get a longer suspension because his victim doesn't like him and claims that Hardy hit her before? That could very well be true or it could be false. Who knows? That's why it's not the commissioner's job to mitigate punishment based on forgiveness or the actions of the victim. It doesn't matter. The act itself matters.

5. In the case of Greg Hardy, if the accuser/victim was on cocaine at the time Hardy hit her, is that a mitigating circumstance? I mean, she was in the act of breaking the law when Hardy hit her. If she was irate and coked out were his actions more justified? Of course not, which is why the fact Ray Rice's fiance (now wife) forgives him and says it hasn't happened since shouldn't matter or mitigate his punishment. A one-time act of domestic violence is still domestic violence and should be punished by the NFL as such. This isn't a court of law. There should be no justification or mitigating circumstances. If an NFL quarterback sexually assaults his girlfriend while drunk one night, but she says it was a one-time thing, does that mitigate the punishment? It absolutely should not.

So basically I don't give a shit what Palmer says did or did not happen before or after Rice battered her. It doesn't matter to me. If Roger Goodell really thinks looking in the eye of a woman who has been abused with her abuser in the room is the best way to find the truth, then he's an even bigger moron than I could ever imagine him to be.

Rice had been a choir boy for all of his six NFL seasons prior to the incident; Rice had a clean NFL discipline and drug record; Rice hadn’t been convicted of anything related to the incident; and Rice had been a community leader for the team in areas like anti-bullying.

Anti-bullying, unless it's a woman, in which case just slap away. Stephen A. Smith says it's fine as long as she provocates you. I can understand how Rice not having been in trouble before could convince Goodell to mitigate his suspension. I don't know if it should, but his previous record of good behavior in terms of not getting in trouble with the law could have an impact as to Rice's character that I don't think "Oh, well he hasn't beaten his girlfriend before" just doesn't have. Still, in terms of mitigating circumstances about how many times Rice has struck his fiance/wife I don't see how the suspension can be mitigated.

There is one other thing I did not write or refer to, and that is the other videotape the NFL and some Ravens officials have seen, from the security camera inside the elevator at the time of the physical altercation between Rice and his fiancée.

I can't imagine what would be on this videotape that would cause me to change my mind. Now I want to know what is on the tape. If Roger Goodell saw Palmer beating on Rice and thought, "Well, she really beat the shit out of him, no wonder he knocked her the fuck out," then he's a tool who needs to be beaten in an elevator. There is nothing, outside of Palmer holding a gun to Rice's head and saying, "Punch me or I will kill you" with intentions to kill him, that would justify Rice's actions.

I cannot say any more, because I did not see the tape. I saw only the damning tape of Rice pulling his unconscious fiancée out of the elevator.

Rice isn't a big guy, but he is an NFL player. Even if his wife (fiance at the time) attacked him, I don't see the justification for knocking her out. I personally think if Palmer did attack Rice then there would be more than just vague comments about "my role in this" she would want the public to know. She is clearly on Rice's side since she has defended him in a press conference and to Roger Goodell, so I imagine if there was behavior on her part that she thought justified Rice's actions then she would feel free to discuss her behavior. Maybe not, but I can't imagine what's on that tape that would mitigate these circumstances.

I keep making the references back to the pending Greg Hardy case because it is the other domestic violence case in the NFL right now. Hardy is the person who called 911 because the victim was belligerent and beating on him. If a video of Palmer beating on Rice mitigates his punishment, then the fact Hardy is the one who called 911 as a result of the victim being seen as out of control in his opinion should knock his suspension down to a game or maybe even only half of a game. After all, he didn't even knock her out! That must impress Roger Goodell.

I felt my best contribution to the discourse was reporting why Goodell gave Rice only a two-game ban and hefty fine. That is what I did. Should I have joined the chorus of those ripping the decision? Perhaps.

Peter King didn't have an obligation to join the chorus of those ripping the decision, but as a person who dedicates an entire part of his weekly NFL column to his personal thoughts, and editorializes throughout that weekly column, it's odd that he chose to not give his opinion of the decision. Peter criticizes restaurants, hotels, and people in public for even the slightest misdeed, as well as gives his opinions on gay rights and gun control in MMQB. When an NFL player gets a two-game suspension for hitting his fiance, Peter is silent and just reports the facts. It goes against Peter's history of speaking up and giving an opinion. The silence and the way he wrote a "Just the facts, ma'am" column about Ray Rice seemed like he was giving his approval of the suspension.

I question myself on that, because I do think Rice should have gotten four games—regardless of what brought on Rice raising a hand to his fiancée.

It took Peter almost a week to write this sentence. Meanwhile his feelings on the Marriott coffee in West Virginia were on record in MMQB early Monday morning.

In retrospect, I would have added a paragraph or two to the story at the end about what I thought, because that is clearly what so many of you expect from me.

No, not at all. We don't expect that from you. It's what you have done in the past. Peter must not understand he has consistently given his opinion on NFL and non-NFL topics in MMQB, so the expectation was set by his previous actions, not by any expectations the readers have that Peter should always comment on a topic he is discussing. That's like if I wrote, "In retrospect, I should have written about the MMQB where Peter used a racial slur and said women were just 'sluts to be used and thrown away'. It's what you as readers expect from me." This isn't true. It's an expectation that I have set myself by writing MMQB every week. Readers expect it because my behavior has created this expectation, not the other way around where the reader creates the expectation.

Thanks for being so strident about an issue you should feel strongly about. It’s caused me to think a lot about the issue, and what I wrote.

Great, I'm glad it took you five days to think about what you wrote. That seems smart and professional for a sportswriter to do. 


Anonymous said...

Peter doesn't realize his blatant double standards and hypocrisy. Him saying he didn't want to inject his opinion because he hadn't seen the second tape is bs. That hasn't stopped him from giving his opinion on gun control or telling other people how to do their job at Starbucks.

It also made me wonder how his reporting would be if one of his boys was in this situation. I can imagine several thousand words in defense of Chip Kelly or any St. Louis Rams player.

And of course Peter would have been more offended if Josh Freeman or Teddy Bridgewater had gotten 2 games for domestic violence. Peter would probably want them publicly executed at halftime of the first game of Week 1.

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, that's what gets me as well. When has not having the full story ever stopped Peter from commenting on something? He loves to give his opinion on social, moral and football issues even when he doesn't have the full story.

I know it sounds crazy, but I don't have an issue on Peter not commenting. It's that he comments on everything else, but he stays strangely silent on Rice's suspension and his opinion of it. He says "I think he should have gotten four games" but it was strangely a very passive opinion.

I do look back to Peter's opinion on Starbucks coffee and how he went on close to every other week how Josh Freeman was such a waste of money. I know it's not an ethical issue, but in terms of giving his opinion, it's a way that Peter expresses a strong one. I'm sure he will go all-in on Greg Hardy soon and hide behind the idea Hardy owned guns as to why his situation was worse than Rice. It's a form of over correction.

Anonymous said...

I know it's obvious to mention but he also shows just a personal bias as well. From his reporting it seems he likes Ray Rice as a person so he's more lenient to him. He doesn't seem to have a strong opinion on Hardy one way or the other so obviously he has an out to crap all over Hardy and call for his head whenever his suspension comes down the pike.

I think what irked me is how very passive aggressive he got when explaining his lack of view on Rice. He basically said I guess I'll be tougher since you clearly demand that from me. As if Peter is so put upon from all of us clamoring for his hot take on the news of the NFL and society as a whole.

Bengoodfella said...

I don't care if he craps all over Hardy, because he deserves it. Hardy has always been a weird guy and there is a story about how every team at the Combine that interviewed him asked him if he was bipolar. He's just odd. Still, he was found guilty and so he deserves some scorn. But compared to how Peter treated Rice, Hardy is going to get it worse.

Peter's point of view was almost, "Wow, I didn't know you guys felt so seriously about this, so I guess I will be a little more strict towards Rice." He says he understands why Goodell suspended Rice for the length he did, but at no point does he explain this. Is the explanation that Rice's wife claimed it was a one-time only thing? If so, that can't in any way persuade Peter or Goodell because that's how an abused spouse would act.