When my eyes first saw the video of Ray Rice slugging his then-fiancée with a vicious left hook, knocking her to the floor of that elevator, I thought not of the NFL.
Instead, I thought of the women in my life — my mother, my sister, my aunts and my grandmother.
I imagined them falling to the ground, unconscious after a man — any man — hit them the way Rice hit his fiancée.
Vitriol coursed through my veins just imagining this hypothetical situation, in which a faceless, nameless man hit one of the women I love so dearly.
Then something else came to mind.
This wasn’t a random woman in the middle of the street that Rice knocked out. This was a woman who Rice, supposedly, loves, and has since married.
They even have a daughter together, so I would hope that he loves her, but after watching that video, I’m somewhat unsure.
How on earth could Rice — no matter how drunk, how angry or how out of his right frame of mind he was for any given reason — hurt a woman that he truly, wholeheartedly loves so much?
It baffled me.
I then thought of his daughter.
How could a sweet, innocent child be raised well by a man who beat the woman who birthed her?
Another question unanswered.
Then, and only then, my thoughts turned to the NFL.
Clearly, it would do something about this, and later it did by announcing Rice would be suspended indefinitely from the league.
That was a no-brainer, which is why I spent so little time thinking about it.
The NFL was given a second chance to right its wrong following the initial two-game suspension Rice got in July and made the necessary move.
If there is indeed “no room” or “no tolerance” for domestic violence against women in the NFL, then the league needed to prove it, and what better way than to essentially kick out the most egregious example?
Again, the NFL wasn’t my main concern, as it was so blatantly clear that the removal of Rice was the move it needed to make.
Instead, my thoughts turned again, this time to the family of Rice and the family of his wife.
Do they still they support the relationship between the two, following this?
How did they feel as they watched their daughter, or daughter in-law, or sister or friend, fall unconscious to the floor?
How could Rice’s teammates and his coaches have — even for a second — respected him enough to want him to rejoin the team?
Again, these questions might go unanswered.
With all of these unanswered hypotheticals festering in my brain, here is what I do know.
Things are much easier said than done.
It’s easier to say, “I’d never hit a woman,” than to be faced with a circumstance, in one way or another, that requires the mindset necessary to avoid doing so. My point is that I think there are many men who don’t have the self-control necessary to avoid becoming “victims of the moment.”
There are men who habitually beat women and do so with no remorse. Those men are the scum of the earth.
I don’t believe Rice was one of those men.
Rather, I believe Rice was one of those “victims of the moment” and will forever be rightfully vilified for his actions.
My hope is that men all over the world take Rice as an example.
While the reasons for not hitting a woman have been seemingly etched in stone since the beginning of time, let Rice and his actions be added to the list.
I hope Rice’s actions force men to take a long, hard look at themselves beneath the “I would never hit a woman” layer and ask themselves, “Would I ever hit a woman?”
The answer in most cases would be no, but maybe those who are unsure, or not completely solid in their answers, should work toward the point.
It’s easy to dismiss this story, call Rice “scum” and move on.
I’d rather we, as a society, take a deep look at this and use it to our advantage.
Rather than to dismiss it, use it.
Use it, when we find ourselves in that moment of anger, that moment of unclear mind, just as Ray Rice did, to avoid the violence, not only to women, but to children or other men as well.
Rice was wrong and because he was wrong, maybe next time we won’t have to be.