Ray Ratto: ‘Can’t Look To NFL For Moral Guidance’

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(Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

(Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

After the Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers, 23-3, in preseason action Thursday night, ESPN reporter Sal Paolantonio interviewed Ray Rice.

The interview could have gone any number of ways. It could have focused on the Ravens’ win. It could have focused on Rice’s three carries for 17 yards. It could have focused on the warm reception Rice got from the home faithful when he came out of the tunnel.

Instead, it focused on the words of encouragement that Rice’s abused wife, Janay Palmer, gave him before the game.

Go out there and do your job, explained Rice, who actually used the phrase “everything that we’ve been through” when discussing his alleged assault of his then-fiance.

Really? We? Is this narrative really going to be spun as a redemption story in which Rice comes back from adversity?

“Well, look, the people who cover the National Football League, I mean, they’re in the hive,” CSN Bay Area columnist Ray Ratto said on The John Feinstein Show. “They get that what people who watch the NFL want is coverage of the league, and everything outside (of) that is not their concern. I mean, I’m not surprised that it was framed that way – because the NFL is such a cash cow for so many people that you can’t look to it for any moral guidance or anything else. It’s a football factory. And everything about it is based on the players and coaches and, to a very small extent, the executives. And anybody outside that circle doesn’t matter or is just part of the scenery.”

“One of the things about the (Roger) Goodell ruling – which really is an owners’ ruling; it’s not just a Goodell ruling,” Ratto continued, “is that it reinforced the notion that what the National Football League is interested in (during) situations like this is not the crime or the victim; it’s about the perpetrator. It’s, ‘What can we do to this guy and not lose money.’ Or, ‘What can we get away with not doing to this guy so we make the maximum amount of money?’ And that’s why you don’t hear much about precedence or, ‘Well, you did this to that guy, so why don’t you do that to this guy?’ Because they want to tailor everything they do around the value they’ve put on the person doing the act. So yeah, the narrative is going to be framed around that – because that’s what everything else is about.”

Ratto blames the NFL for this, but he also blames the media – and, perhaps to an extent, the fans.

“I cover football; this affects the football team; how does this affect the football team?” Ratto said, explaining an NFL reporter’s mindset. “(It’s) not, ‘How does this affect people’s views on how the National Football League deals with violence?’ Those are social issues that are beyond their interest. They want to know (whether) the Ravens (will) be able to run the ball as effectively (without Rice). That’s what they want to know – and they know that there is an enormous audience that wants to know the same thing. They’re playing to that audience.”

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