By Dale Grdnic
PITTSBURGH -- Just hours after the Web site TMZ posted a surveillance video that showed Ray Rice punching in the face his then-fiance, now-wife, Janay Palmer, in an Atlantic City hotel elevator last February, the Baltimore Ravens released the running back.
Rice missed the Ravens season-opening game Sunday and would have been absent again Thursday night against the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers while serving a two-game, NFL-mandated suspension. Now, his future in the league is in doubt.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and veteran cornerback Ike Taylor would not comment on the situation, but since domestic violence hits painfully close to home for cornerback Will Gay, he had quite a bit to say.
"First, and foremost, I'm totally against domestic violence,'' Gay said. "My mom passed away from domestic violence. So, that was wrong of him (Gay starts to tear up). But, at the end of the day, you don't need to run away from Ray Rice. He needs help. So, we've got to do everything we can do to help him.
"This just lets you know that domestic violence is real, and it's real in the NFL. And we need to get help. We're not immune to it. So, the best of luck to Ray Rice. I'm praying for him and his wife. They're in a tough situation, and we just hope he comes out great and becomes better, becomes a better person.''
Gay didn't believe a longer suspension should even be the issue.
"It's all about getting him help,'' Gay added. "It's bigger than that. My mom passed away. We're not talking about a game. She lost her life, so that's the help that I'm talking about.''
Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu had several comments as well after noting that he had seen the new video footage that showed Rice knock Ms. Palmer out cold, drag her limp body from the elevator and kick at her to try to revive her. Since Rice was released after the media had left the Steelers locker room, none of the players commented on that part of it.
"Unfortunately, I've seen the video,'' Polamalu said. "But I have a lot of issues of my own that I deal with. In truth, I couldn't judge him on anything, because I'm defiled by as many passions and sins and more than him, most likely."
"I have my own struggles. And, obviously, he's got his own struggles. And we all have our own struggles. So, I can't look past my own struggles to judge him.''
Polamalu also was asked to address domestic violence.
"It's a horrible issue that people have to deal with,'' Polamalu said. "I'm very blessed to have been married for almost 10 years now. I have a wonderful wife, and I'm so thankful for that. But it's an unfortunate issue that couples have to deal with.''
Polamalu then recalled that the Steelers were the only NFL team to vote against the current collective bargaining agreement in 2012.
"I know that one of our main contentions, when our team was the only team to vote down the collective bargaining agreement, was that the Commissioner had sole power in being the judge and jury in these cases,'' Polamalu said. "So, it's all on him, and it was on him from the beginning.
"And I don't know what kind of access he had to that video, but unfortunately the NFL has become less about football and more about what surrounds football. I think it's pretty easy, nowadays, with social media, to lose track about the sport. A lot of parents want children to look up to these athletes as role models, so it's a double-edged sword.''
And in this specific case, the sword landed on Rice, as he was cut by the Ravens.