You can only talk your way out of things so much; and eventually even the unwise get wise to theatrical circles of rhetoric.
Ray Rice spoke to the public on Friday afternoon and shared exactly what anyone would expect from a guy trying to repair his image and place a stop-loss on the fallout from an embarrassing and very public domestic violence issue with his then-fiancee’, now wife.
Rice had a case of the “sorries” as he sat on the big stage and spoke to fans by using and abusing the local media via a proverbial dog-and-pony-show out at Owings Mills. No questions, no comments, no additional information to be had.
Rice, fumbling through his phone, said exactly what he wanted to say; exactly what the Ravens wanted him to say. Some have openly questioned the confusing strategy used by the Ravens PR team, led by Kevin Byrne. But after listening to Byrne’s conversation with Nestor Aparicio on WNST.net via The Happy Hours, anyone who wants to see through the smoke-screen will see that the plan and strategy was to make this situation look like it was one of unrehearsed sincerity.
It’s not out of the realm of possibility that the strategy, from a PR standpoint, was to make it look like there was, in fact, no strategy.
Considering the fact that Rice was previously taking 100-percent of the heat and criticism for his misstep, it’s pretty savvy for the Ravens, from an organizational view, to deflect and deter at least some of the negative attention from him.
It’s shrewd, it’s savvy, and it reeks of the utmost arrogance.
The truth is that the Ravens can pretty much do whatever they really want to do. The majority of fans will blind themselves by the purple lights and chalk something like this up to something of a crusade against poor Ray Rice.
But the truth is, Rice doesn’t deserve sympathy and the fans don’t deserve to fall victim to a PR move that completely deters and derails their attention away from the questionable illegal actions from one of its local heroes.
Rice should have made a statement without a phone. He should have apologized without having to “think” and “remember” what to say via some sort of note-taking app. And, he should have had the respect and decency to stand up and act like a man by taking questions from the same group of media members who have virtually created the love-affair between he and Baltimore by giving him nothing but thanks and praise during the “good times.”
But Rice didn’t do that. He opted to allow the Ravens to construct a strategy that made him look like an emotionally-drained victim worthy of everyone’s immediate forgiveness.
If it wasn’t bad enough to have Rice babble and wallow in his own pity-party about his family’s disappointment, the Ravens and Byrne went on to frame him as a victim who was too embarrassed to face women at work and too ashamed to even go to the team’s gym during regular hours.
What’s more is the savvy move to use Rice’s wife–who was truly the victim–as a pawn who publicly apologized for her role in the situation that took place in Atlantic City. It comes across like the typical “he hits me, but he loves me” mentality, which is even more troubling on so many levels.
The Ravens set this up in the way they wanted this to be set up. Have no doubt, when camp training camp begins later this summer, there will still be lingering questions from reporters and fans alike, who just want to get to the bottom of what the heck happened that night in Atlantic City. And everyone deserves answers, because it’s not just Rice’s personal situation and hardship, it involves everyone who has any sort of interest and connection to the Ravens and the city of Baltimore.
It involves the fan who now has to take ridicule from opposing fans. It involves the parents who have to explain why their son or daughter can’t wear his or her number-27 jersey to school. It involves the guy who has to watch an accused wife-beater run the ball for the team he loves.
The Ravens’ choice to do it this way was arrogant; and when it comes to this type of rhetorical strategy, not everyone is fooled.