Ok, so let’s get right down to it. NFL players are some of the highest paid athletes in the sports industry. These men were discovered as young boys, typically in urban neighborhoods with dreams of becoming the next role models with their name on a team jersey. When these young guys “make it”, they experience a great deal of culture shock. Their life literally changes from night to day and everything takes off at lightning speed. This 27 year old man, Ray Rice, was worth over 40 million dollars to run, catch, block, throw, smile for the camera, and make appearances as needed. The definition of an overnight sensation; these men are revered as heroes to fans each time they lead the home team to victory. Many times money overshadows many of the issues of a person’s reality. Nobody really knows what plagues the hearts and minds of these men and honestly nobody really cares as long as they run, catch, block, throw, smile for the camera, and make appearances as needed. The most important factors to the public, the coaches, the team and the families of these athletes are where to find the team jersey with their favorite player on it, whether or not your team goes to the super bowl, and whether or not your family gets to live a lavish lifestyle for the first time. This is such a heavy burden for a young man while he’s still expected to run, catch, block, throw, smile for the camera, and make appearances as needed. Does anybody care about the spirit of these young men? Does anybody ever stop to hear the silent cries that are drowning in the cheers of the millions of fans that have expectations of them but could care less how they really feel? How many times has the NFL conveniently covered up the actions of the players as a bargaining tool to keep up the façade of this squeaky clean, larger than life, role model image? I’m sure the answer is several, as long as these young men are an asset to the organization. I often hear the term “Free Agent” in the world of sports. This means that a player is not bound by a contract, so they are free to play for any team they want. Unfortunately, these players are still slaves that are bid on in the financial slave trade of team sports, beat down by the whip of money, to be purchased and possessed by the highest bidder. This is seen as an opportunity of a lifetime, but again, what about your spirit? Is your inner man in tact? You have to always be camera ready, no inner or outer blemishes visible, no bad days that can be noticed on camera, and no secrets, at least that can come out. The cost of fame and popularity is expensive because the reality is, there is absolutely no room for error or the very thing that was given to you will quickly be snatched away. It was said that an immediate decision was made to end Ray Rice’s career a few hours after the release of the additional footage of the domestic violence situation. Funny thing is, the tape surfaced the day after the first game of the season. Let me be very clear, I am in no way, form or fashion a supporter or in defense of any act of domestic violence perpetrated by a man or a woman. There is never a justifiable reason to lose your cool and physically assault another person. As a past victim of one of the facets of domestic violence, I understand the remnants from the invisible scars that never go away. I also understand how easily a victim can become a perpetrator of violent acts in the name of self defense, still no justification for physically or verbally attacking someone else. What I am saying is that some things have a strange way of coming to light at the most convenient times. It was no secret that there was an altercation between Ray Rice and his now wife, Janay. It was apparent that there was a conspiracy to push this young couple in to a marriage that they obviously were not ready for, as a tactic to clean up an already tarnished situation. It was like watching a poorly written stage play unfold every time I watched a press conference after the incident. Body language and facial expressions sometimes tell a more honest story than the words that a person speaks. It was clear that this naïve, rich, young man was poorly advised. Nobody cared as long as he could run, catch, block, throw, smile for the camera, and make public appearances as needed. There is a certain amount of rage and strength that must be present in the game of football. Many times, there are illegal chemical enhancers that will increase a player’s ability during the game. It’s no wonder several NFL players have problems with domestic abuse, drug and alcohol use, gambling, and other self-destructive behavior. The idea of encouraging a young couple to join in marriage one week after a public domestic violence incident was clearly a selfish tactic concocted by the organization. There needed to be a period of counseling and separation to sort out the issues that caused the relationship to move in that direction. Nobody knows what went on in their household. Nobody knows what their child had to witness on a daily basis. Everybody just got a brief snapshot of what appears to be a young couples’ life. There is a disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) that has been commonly found in football athletes. The origin of the condition was discovered in boxers due the amount of head trauma that they endured. This is caused by multiple concussions. The symptoms are dementia, such as memory loss, aggression, confusion and depression, which generally appear years or many decades after the trauma. This just proves that your career could immediately end if you make one false move. The pressure of this alone can cause intense stress. The consequence of having a fan club is that they are temporary ego inflators until you no longer fulfill their agendas. Pastors, entertainers, and athletes have all lived the “These fans ain’t loyal” reality as soon as they made one bad judgment call. The greatest condemnation comes from your biggest supporters. People will drop you quick, go get the nails and hammer and nail you to the cross. You literally have to become a public robot and walk to the beat of the fan clubs drum with a painted on smile and literally no human like qualities present. The media, as well as social media are the main culprits of the demise of a person’s image. If you don’t look the part, and always say and do the right things, you are guaranteed to be stripped of all of your dignity and accomplishments in the blink of an eye. I am in no way saying that someone that does wrong should not be punished, but there should also be some rehabilitation to see if there is a potential for change. There is never a time out to process the bad decision or take steps to prevent the behavior from happening again. Who cares, as long as you can run, catch, block, throw, smile for the camera and make appearances as needed, until they have no more use for you, then your career is over. In my opinion everyone dropped the football ball including the fans, family, coaches, team mates, friends, fiancé and Ray Rice. I don’t believe for one moment that nobody knew there was a problem. I don’t believe that this is the first time these 2 had a domestic situation. Covering up a problem doesn’t make it go away. It just lays dormant until a situation occurs that causes it to resurface. My prayer today is that Ray Rice and his family will now be able to get some real deliverance and possibly repair a broken family. If not, get individual help to heal fractured spirits. Anger management is needed for both parties to effectively raise their child. God, please bless this family. Do damage control on their images, and immediately repair their hearts. Keep them safe and give them a means of financial and emotional stability. Show them that money is the root of all evil and give them a new appreciation for all things spiritual. Lord, reveal and remove the “fans”, because right now, they need people that truly love them and are genuinely concerned about their well-being. In Jesus name, AMEN!