SBD/February 24, 2014/Franchises

Ravens GM Yet To Speak With Ray Rice, But Admits Tape "Doesn't Look Good"

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Rice likely will face team or league discipline if he struck his fiancee
Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome on Saturday acknowledged that the video showing Ray Rice "dragging his unconscious fiancee from an elevator at an Atlantic City, N.J., casino is a troubling image for the star running back," according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore SUN. Newsome said, "I did (watch the video) online, just like everybody else did, and it doesn't look good. ... The video is what it is. Up until the process runs its course, we, as an organization, will stand down." While Newsome "hasn’t spoken with Rice, he’s been informed of his version of events through Rice's conversations" with coach John Harbaugh, Dir of Player Development Harry Swayne and Dir of Team Security Darren Sanders. Newsome: "Right now, I feel very good about his side of the story, but I also feel very good about what he has done since that to help himself to not allow himself to get in a situation like that again." ESPN analyst and former NFL GM Bill Polian said, "This is a very serious issue. This is a player universally regarded as one of the best players in football, the poster child for what's good about the NFL. So you feel sorry for him and his fiancee. No human being is perfect" (Baltimore SUN, 2/23). THE MMQB's Peter King writes if Rice did lay a hand on his fiancee, he will "be branded an abuser and likely face league or team discipline," and "rightfully so." What is "disappointing for the Ravens, and for Rice, is that he'd become to some the face of the franchise, a leading spokesman in the fight against bullying and an unselfish person in the community" (MMQB.SI.com, 2/24).

BRAND AWARENESS: In Baltimore, Childs Walker noted Rice's sponsors "have offered a mixed reaction." Local used car dealer Carbiz Owner Evan Berney "has stood by" Rice. M&T Bank VP/Corporate Communications Phil Hosmer said the company does not "have enough information to comment right now, but we are evaluating information as it comes in to us." Baltimore-based TBC Advertising Exec VP & Managing Dir Howe Burch: "I can't think of another athlete in the area who has experienced this kind of rapid turn." Newsome said, "I will reserve all of my comments until I get a chance to talk to Ray." Burch said that he would "urge Rice to remain silent as long as his legal situation is in flux." He added, "I don't think he can do himself any favors by talking right now" (Baltimore SUN, 2/23).

TABLOID TV GETTING IT RIGHT? In Baltimore, David Zurawik asked of the release of the casino footage, "Is TMZ doing good work that deserves some of my respect and gratitude? Or are my standards getting lower?" TMZ acknowledges that it "sometimes pays for video but declined Friday to say whether it paid for the footage on Rice last week." TMZ Sports Exec Producer Evan Rosenblum said, "We consider ourselves a very serious news operation. And we vet stories thoroughly and seriously. Our reputation as reputable journalists is the most important thing." He added that TMZ got the video "because it worked the Rice story harder than anyone else." Rosenblum: "Ever since the news broke that Ray Rice was arrested in Atlantic City, we've been on top of the story. Clearly, Ray Rice is a huge star, and this is a shocking incident. We were trying to reach every single person connected to this thing, and you know how it goes in news some times: You talk to one person, who gets you to another person, and another person." Zurawik wrote, "My bottom line: Despite its journalistic sins, TMZ has become an invaluable site on the media landscape" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 2/22).
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