Ravens PR chief, owner rise to the defense of Ray Rice
After leading the league in offseason arrests, enduring the backlash that stemmed from a punishment which practically no one agrees is fair (and then signing a three-time violator of the league’s drug and PED policies), the Ravens have taken the obvious next step in a fabulous week for their image.
They’ve had their senior vice president of public relations write 1,200 words about what a great guy Ray Rice is.
To his credit, longtime PR man Kevin Byrne understands that he’s not going to change many minds, but apparently felt compelled to share some personal reflections about all the good things Ray Rice has done.
Then again, he also oversees the messaging for a team that thought it would be a good idea to live-tweet Janay Rice’s apologizing for getting knocked out, bringing victim-blaming rushing into the 21st century with a deft social media flourish.
He also used his position to get a nice EXCLUSIVE with his boss, Ravens owner Steve Biscioitti, after asking if he thought this was a good idea.
“That’s your call,” Bisciotti said. “I don’t think Ray needs it, and I don’t think you’ll change the minds of those who don’t want to have anything to do with Ray. . . . How sad we all are that he tarnished his image. No one outside, I’ve learned, can understand how we look at these guys as our sons and close friends as opposed to just employees.
“I saw that clearly when we lost the AFC championship at New England [at the end of the 2011 season],” the owner continued. “I had friends tell me, ‘You must hate Lee Evans or Billy Cundiff. They cost you a trip to the Super Bowl.’ It was the opposite – we felt for Lee and Billy. I wished that they’d get another chance. I felt the need to protect them like I would one of my sons. It’s not like that in my other businesses.
“Don’t we all have days or moments or periods in our life we regret? Ray showed great character for the six years I’ve known him. He has shown remorse after a bad incident. It was out of character. I don’t think now is the time to abandon him. You say we are a Ravens’ family. I’ve come to believe that.”
This is followed by the kind of things you’d expect someone who likes Ray Rice to tell you, about his remorse and civic concern, and another affirmation from Bisciotti that taking care of their own was a good idea.
But it’s probably not, if only for the fact it underscores how tone-deaf the Ravens have been throughout this entire incident.
Having a press-conference with no questions allowed was a sham, a clumsy effort to divert attention on a Friday afternoon. Live-tweeting Rice’s wife trying to jump on a grenade for her husband that day was tasteless at best. John Harbaugh’s tone of mild annoyance in discussing Rice’s two-game absence was cringe-worthy.
And frankly, trying to explain away the negative reaction to domestic violence is beneath them.
Unless, of course, it isn’t.