It’s been a combination of the worst for the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Football League (NFL) over the past few weeks. After surveillance video captured Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice in a very uncomfortable situation dragging his fiancée across an elevator floor prior to his arrest at an Atlantic City casino, New York Knicks point guard Raymond Felton was detained on gun charges following his wife’s submission to New York police of a firearm allegedly belonging to Felton. Both stories sent shockwaves through professional sporting news and both cases spawned a long line of head-scratching and reactions of disgust. Both the Ravens and the Knicks are two of the most respected organizations in professional sports, and now each franchise finds itself with its name directly attached to criminal cases that has ugly written in bold letters across the front cover. But which story is more troublesome, the Knicks or the Ravens? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk discuss the question.
Riley: While both stories are extremely disturbing, Rice’s incident may cause severe damage should the police report prove true. Rice is alleged to have struck his fiancée, rendering her unconscious. Jail time would obviously be pursued, but Rice’s image could be tarnished forever after establishing himself as one of the classiest players in the NFL prior to the Ravens’ Super Bowl win in 2013. The ironic thing about Rice’s case is, should he be proven innocent, you would then have a story that has blackballed a high-profile athlete. Either way it’s a huge story. When you consider Rice’s squeaky clean image, a proud Ravens franchise coming off a Super Bowl win all as subplots, then this situation could be a long and draining one for him and the Ravens organization.
Green: The gun laws in New York City are strict and unforgiving. Considering that Plaxico Burress was forced to do a stint after shooting himself, you can only wonder how heavy the prosecution will force charges after Felton’s wife, Ariane Raymondo-Felton, stated her husband threatened her with a Belgian-made FN Herstal pistol. So not only is Felton facing gun charges but he’ll be facing domestic violence charges as well. It’s a bad time to be either man right about now. High-profile cases in New York typically don’t end pretty for defendants. Now the classification of the three gun charges that were issued to Felton is still unknown.
There’s talk that Felton could avoid jail because of the type of charges they are but obviously, the odds are still stacked. The ramification on Felton could obviously be a nightmare but imagine the results this could have on the chances of Carmelo Anthony re-signing with the team this summer. The Knicks were already a mess, causing questions to surround whether Anthony would want to stick around in New York. What are the chances he comes back now with all this chaos surrounding the team?
Riley: Felton’s issues could weigh in on Anthony’s decisions but should the Ravens lose Rice whether by jail or decision to release him, then you’re removing a key component and a Pro Bowl running back from a team that recently won the Super Bowl. What have the Knicks done since Anthony has been there? Factor in their current bottom-10 standings and what exactly would the Knicks be losing if Anthony decided to leave? Baltimore just won a championship with Rice as one of the primary players on the team. His play has been a key reason why Baltimore has contended at a top level over the past few seasons even prior to them winning the title last year. If the Ravens lose him, they’ll be forced to search the market for a replacement to a Pro Bowl running back as well as in the hunt to repair a team image that they’ve worked hard to repair since Ray Lewis’ indictment on murder charges in 2000. Baltimore has been the model of consistency over the past decade while the Knicks have been mostly horrible or average. Rice’s incident has a chance to knock Baltimore off of its pedestal.
Green: As much as I love Ray Rice for what he did for the Ravens throughout his first five seasons in the NFL, his sixth and most recent season was a disaster. He wasn’t the same running back last season as he was during those first five years. He didn’t run with the same passion and heart, and for that reason I believe the Ravens were already in the hunt for a replacement, or at least, some competition for Rice at the running back spot. Running backs don’t last long in the NFL. They take a lot of damage to the body with all of the contact, run after run, tackle after tackle. Rice’s reign as an elite runner may have already been over, which makes planning for life without him easier to deal with for Ravens fans? His absence, however, may hurt the team salary cap-wise as he’s locked into a contract that would cost the Ravens at least $6 million should they cut him. I’m sure the Ravens’ brass is hoping things don’t come to that, for both Rice and the team’s sake.