Rice's Marketability Threatened In Wake Of Assault Allegations, Release Of TMZ Video
Ravens RB Ray Rice's image yesterday might have "suffered severe damage -- the kind from which it might never recover" -- following "two devastating media developments," according to David Zurawik of the Baltimore SUN. It started with TMZ "releasing video from an Atlantic City casino early in the day, and was followed by publication of a summons saying that Rice hit his fiancee with his hand 'rendering her unconscious' at the casino Saturday night." The TMZ video "showed Rice and his fiancee trying to exit an elevator at the casino." She "looks to be unconscious and falls to the floor with her feet still in the elevator, while he tries to drag her out into the hallway." ESPN led off its 6:00pm ET version of "SportsCenter" with news of the Rice video and later ended a report "with a freeze frame of Rice standing over his fiancee as she lay on the floor of the elevator." The headline underneath read, "Ray Rice knocked fiancee out" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 2/19). ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike" led off its broadcast this morning with the Rice news, with co-host Mike Greenberg saying, "Obviously, there's only one place to begin, and that is what everyone in the world of sports and well beyond is talking about. That is the very disturbing video images that we have seen now of one of the NFL's most popular and well-liked and I think highly regarded players" ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 2/20). While ESPN continuosly reported on the Rice story on various platforms, it was not covered on FS1's "Fox Sports Live" last night or today's "NFL AM" on NFL Network. None of the three network morning shows broached the topic, but it was discussed on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" (THE DAILY).
STANDING BY RICE: Baltimore-based Carbiz Autos said that the assault charges surrounding Rice "will not change its business relationship" with him. In Baltimore, Ryan McDonald noted Rice has done ads for the company "for the past five and a half years." Carbiz Owner Evan Berney yesterday said that Rice is "currently under contract with the dealership and his ads will remain on the air" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 2/19). Also in Baltimore, Ryan Sharrow noted "among the largest" of Rice's marketing deals has been one with M&T Bank, where he "has been the face of the company’s TV, print and radio ads." Rice also "makes personal appearances on behalf of the bank." M&T has said that the deal is "on a year-by-year basis and had no immediate comment" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 2/19).
LEAGUE, TEAM LOOKING AT INCIDENT: In Baltimore, Aaron Wilson prior to the release of the TMZ video reported Rice's arrest "will be reviewed" by the NFL under its personal-conduct policy. Rice has "no history of off-field issues, which could work in his favor." That "doesn't necessarily mean he will avoid punishment, though, as first-time offenders have been suspended in the past" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 2/19). A Ravens spokesperson said, "We have seen the video, this is a serious matter and we are currently gathering more information." Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti "declined to comment" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 2/19). Wilson appeared on "Mike & Mike" today and said, “A lot of fans that I’ve heard from, they are very upset about this. Some want him cut. Some want him to take time off until he deals with these issues. ... I think a lot of them are saddened by it and some are angry” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 2/20).
BRINGING IN BACKUP: In Baltimore, Matt Vensel reported Ravens DT Haloti Ngata "will replace" Rice tomorrow night at the ASPCA's Maryland-chapter kickoff party for its annual March of Animals event. An MDSPCA spokesperson said that it was "a mutual decision between the organization and Rice, because they didn't want to take the focus off the animals and the cause" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 2/19).