Real life is intersecting with the Seahawks and the rest of the NFL.
As with everything else surrounding the Ray Rice domestic violence case, it’s ugly. And, one can only hope, transformative.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he’s already being transformed. And on Wednesday he took what he hopes is a first step toward transformation for his players on a problem that plagues our society — and on a case that has engulfed the league in its second week of the regular season.
During a team meeting Wednesday morning, Carroll discussed the Rice situation and the fallout of the video TMZ produced on Monday. It appears to show the Baltimore Ravens running back punching his then-fiancée, now-wife in an Atlantic City, New Jersey, casino elevator so hard it rendered her unconscious.
The Seahawks had on their payroll until this month cornerback A.J. Jefferson. Minnesota released him last year following his arrest on a felony count of domestic assault by strangulation. Jefferson was to be out for the season with an ankle injury before he reached an injury settlement with Seattle on or about Sept. 1.
In March, Jefferson pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of domestic assault in the 2013 case, according to Minneapolis’ television and radio stations WCCO. He signed with Seattle two months later. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail, which was suspended to time served of three days.
Jefferson was mentioned as part of a question to Carroll during his weekly press conference at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center about how he will evaluate players to sign and keep on his roster in the wake of the Rice situation with Baltimore and the NFL.
The coach responded that he’s now changed forever.
“It will never be the same,” Carroll said. “I’ve got to admit, my awareness is different than it was and I don’t think it will ever be the same as it was. I’m glad that I can say that. Hopefully, we can prevent, we can head off any issue that could come up in the future.
“I talked to the team about it today. I talked about the serious nature of it,” Carroll said of domestic violence. “It’s an extremely serious situation. We made them aware that we will help them in any way we can if they are in a situation where they feel uncomfortable and (if) they have concerns about it.
“We will try to elevate their awareness as we go, and hopefully — unfortunately, after such a serious incident — generally our awareness will grow,” Carroll said. “We will be better off because of it. And we will all think differently. It’s unfortunate that we’ve had to learn (like this).
“For people that have been involved with that, our hearts go out to them, and the depth of their pain. Hopefully we will just do better, and our players will be better for it.”
The discussion was more poignant than anything he said on this day about Sunday’s game in San Diego between his Super Bowl-champion Seahawks (1-0) and the Chargers (0-1).
“Hopefully, the process and visibility will bring an awareness throughout our society,” Carroll said. “We need to take care of one another better and we need to respond accordingly.”
The former national-champion coach at USC is the founder of A Better LA, a nonprofit organization that describes itself as supporting “community-based solutions to restore peace, save lives, and give Angelenos living in inner city LA the resources they need in order to thrive. A Better LA works with trusted partners to bridge racial divides, create safer environments for children and families, rebuild communities, and empower individuals to create better futures for themselves.”
Since he became the Seahawks coach and executive vice president in January 2010, Carroll has co-led with the YMCA of Greater Seattle and the Seahawks’ A Better Seattle, a public-private community awareness and mobilization campaign modeled after A Better LA that also involves the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative.
Richard Sherman, the team’s newly elected player representative for the league’s union, confirmed Carroll spoke to the players about the Rice case to keep awareness of domestic violence high around the franchise.
The Ravens released Rice on Monday, hours after TMZ posted the video of him and his wife inside the elevator. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell then changed his suspension of Rice from two games, which two weeks ago Goodell admitted was a mistake, to indefinite. Goodell and the NFL have insisted they had not seen the second video from inside the elevator that shows Rice knocking out his wife, only a previously released recording that showed Rice pulled her, while she was unconscious, out of the elevator.
Goodell told CBS News in a one-on-one interview later Monday that no one to his knowledge at the league had seen the second video.
“It’s an unfortunate situation. A situation I’m sure he never wanted to be in. Obviously he made his mistakes and I think he is dealing with the consequences for what he did and it is what it is,” Sherman said before Wednesday’s practice.
“I try not to talk about people off the field. If we had something to talk about on the field I would, but you can’t throw stones from a glass house.”
That glass shattered following practice.
During it, The Associated Press broke news that contradicted what Goodell and the league have been insisting. The AP reported that three months ago a law-enforcement official sent to the NFL that horrid, second video of Rice from inside the elevator. The report, from Philadelphia-based AP writer Rob Maaddi, said the law-enforcement official played for the AP “a 12-second voicemail from an NFL office number on April 9 confirming the video arrived. A female voice expresses thanks and says: ‘You’re right. It’s terrible.’ ”
Once the Seahawks players saw that news all over social media following their afternoon practice and after their media availability time for the day was over, some responded in kind.
“Sooooo uhhhh Roger?????” Seahawks safety Jeron Johnson tweeted, accentuating that with an emoticon of two large, watching eyes.
Wide receiver Doug Baldwin tweeted: “Sean Payton was suspended for one year. ‘Ignorance not an excuse...’
“Say no mo.”
That was in reference to the New Orleans Saints’ “Bountygate” scandal two years ago. Goodell suspended four Saints players, their general manager, two assistant coaches and head coach Payton after an NFL investigation uncovered the team paying players to deliver big hits and knock opposing players out of games with injuries.
Sherman retweeted a message posted on the account of Buddy Baker, Baldwin’s agent:
“When a player makes a mistake, he has consequences, often serious ones from commissioner. Goodell admits a mistake — what are his consequences?”