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In an elevator at a casino in February 2014, Ray Rice, the former star running back of the Baltimore Ravens, did something that has haunted him ever since. The initial hallway footage of the incident showed Rice dragging his fiancee, Janay Palmer, from an elevator. She was unconscious. The optics were bad enough, even without the actual punch being seen.

For months after that, Rice, the National Football League and the Ravens danced around what might be considered appropriate punishment for domestic abuse. Women's advocacy groups were outraged by what they complained were mere wrist-slapping measures meted out for such a serious offense. He and Palmer married a month after the incident, and she defended him publicly.

But in September 2014, the gossip site TMZ broadcast the elevator footage of Rice punching Palmer unconscious with one blow. His career in the NFL hung in jeopardy. The Ravens tore up Rice's contract after having defended him most of the year.

For his part, Rice spoke out on the subject and aimed his message at young men much like himself who needed to hear blunt warnings about domestic violence. Recently, Rice agreed to be featured as part of an hourlong NFL-sponsored video about the scourge of domestic violence.

Slowly, Ray Rice is becoming the face of a football league much more sensitive to domestic violence. The NFL is no longer tolerant of behavior it once sanctioned with meaningless punishment, bureaucratic inaction and indifference. Rice may never play professional football again, but his crusade to confront domestic violence is as worthy a legacy as winning the Super Bowl.

Editorial on 04/28/2017

Print Headline: The repentance tour

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