You are hard pressed to find a person in the United States that does not know who Ray Rice is. Unfortunately, for Rice, most know him for the incident in an Atlantic City, New Jersey elevator where he struck his then fiance, Janay Palmer. Ray Rice is the new NFL villain and the brunt of most conversation from the water cooler to the anchor desk.
While the suspension has been talked about ad nauseum, not many have looked at WHY the incident might have occurred. Many people are familiar with the term “product of his environment,” but what does that mean. If you look at the Urban Dictionary you will find the following, “An expression that states that people may behave or act a certain way as a result of the environment they live in.” While not the pre-emanate end-all-be-all that about sums it up.
Was Ray Rice a “product of his environment?” A few of the writers here at Sports Unbiased decided to look at that possibility. The following writers took part in the discussion- Francesca Toledo, Jr. Williams, Jared Cortes and Jason Culley. Adam Solowiei also tackled that question in a separate article outlining the future of Ray Rice in the NFL. Below is the question asked to the writers and their unedited responses. Don’t forget to weigh in with your comments and votes at the end of the piece.
I disagree it has anything to do with being “a product of his environment.” Just because he is from the so called “hood” does not give what he did any validation. It does not matter where a person is from, there is never any excuse for abusing a woman. And bravo to the NFL for suspending him indefinitely. It’s time we get rid of athletes like him that have such a sense of entitlement, and teams who are always willing to look the other way because of their playing ability.
The idea that Ray Rice is in anyway a “product of his environment” is absurd in the worst way. First off, to assume that someone who grew up in a less than fortunate environment is destined to remain the same is offensive in a multitude of ways. Growing up in a rough neighborhood does not make you immune to change, especially in regards to relationship abuse. Even if you grew up in an abusive household, it does not become an excuse for abusive behavior. That’s like saying your parents exhibited racist behavior when you were a kid so there’s no way you can possibly function in society without exploiting your racism-laden past.
Ray Rice has no excuse. He messed up in the worst of ways, but that does not make him the product of an environment. It makes him an idiot. Domestic abuse is one of the most sensitive topics in the United States, but it’s still not highlighted enough to make a difference. The Ray Rice contract termination and indefinite suspension is a giant step forward for domestic violence awareness and will hopefully bring the issue to the forefront. Just don’t forget that Rice is in no way a product of an environment. Ray Rice is just a disgusting jerk.
Are people a product of their environment…I think it is possible. That doesn’t mean that someone who grew up in a single parent home, surrounded by violence, etc. cannot or will not grow up to be a upstanding, law-abiding citizen. Or on the flip side just because you grow up in a two parent family, fairly stable situation you will not turn out to be a scumbag.
Here is what I know about Ray Rice. He was raised by a single mom who often worked two jobs to make sure her kids were taken care of. Ray’s father was killed in a drive by shooting when he was only a year old. He was not the target just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Ray’s cousin became a father figure for him but was killed 10 years later when the vehicle he was in was hit by a drunk driver. At a very young age Ray took on small jobs to help his mom. Sweeping up a local barbershop for tips, in a catering hall washing dishes and later in his teen years as a summer camp counselor. He excelled in high school and college football before being drafted by the Ravens.
So do I think he was a product of his environment? Sure, but not in the negative way that term is often used. He came from a loving home and unfortunate situations that made him grow up and learn responsibility much younger then he should have had to. I have never heard bad things about Ray until this situation, which is why it was a real shock. Without seeing what happened in the elevator I was forced to assume, like many that what took place wasn’t that bad since no charges were filed and he married the victim about a month later. Seeing the video really shocked and saddened me. It is unfortunate his wife has to relive this now the video is out.
Ray Rice has done a lot of great things for his community and others, unfortunately his violent actions against his spouse quickly make you forget about all the good he has done for others. Major media outlets also have a way of beating a dead horse, however this particular situation deserves attention as domestic violence and spousal abuse continues to be a major issue in our society. Similar to Rice, I am from some very ruff and violent streets, however you will NEVER find me committing any acts of violence towards any women no matter what the situation.
This particular issue hits home because there are in fact people who try to justify Ray Rices actions as a result of being from the streets or a “product of his environment”, which is complete and utter b.s. Such accusations about Rice are true because I hear ignorant people spew such b.s. on a daily basis whenever players from a similar background as Rice find themselves in major trouble. Little do they know, I’m from the same area and I represent the best and brightest people to survive crime infested environments everyday. Rice has a major problem respecting women, simple as that. Perhaps someone failed to educate him on the proper ways to treat a lady or how to respond in a situation where your best judgments are impaired due to alcoholism. Ray Rice has several issues, however, to blame it on his environment and to say people like him “never change” is a idiotic and proves how ignorant some people really are.
Will Ray Rice ever play football again? Personally, I could care less. He’ll join a long list of players who have screwed-up only to be let back into the welcoming arms of NFL fans. Some of the same fans who wore “free Aaron Hernandez shirts” and Jovan Belcher jerseys.
Ray Rice represents the worse of the worst, however, it should not be attributed to where his from. News flash, abusers come in all colors, shapes, genders, and sizes.