No applauding Ravens for releasing Rice

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens finally made the right decision by releasing running back Ray Rice, although no one should applaud the organization for doing so.

It took a video showing Rice striking his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer, off her feet to force the Ravens to cut ties and end seven months of unwavering support. The Ravens had numerous opportunities to make the correct move before seeing the grainy images of Rice knocking a woman unconscious.

Two days after Rice was arrested on assault charges in February, general manager Ozzie Newsome said Rice was "still a big part" of the team's plans. After the first video published on TMZ showed Rice dragging Palmer out of the elevator, Newsome told reporters at the NFL combine: "Right now, I feel very good about his side of the story." When Rice was indicted on third-degree aggravated assault, the Ravens released a statement that read: "We know there is more to Ray Rice than this one incident."

The video that surfaced Monday told the entire story, and it's an ugly and sad one. The Ravens felt their continuous backing of Rice -- from the owner to the general manager to the coach -- was admirable. Instead, it was misguided. Even though a source recently said the team hadn't seen the latest video, the Ravens made the egregious mistake of lauding Rice's character and not focusing on the domestic violence incident itself.

"I stand behind Ray -- he's a heck of a guy," coach John Harbaugh said in late July before the original two-game suspension was announced.

"I don’t think now is the time to abandon him," owner Steve Bisciotti said in a story that appeared on the team's website in late July.

In the end, the Ravens couldn't stand beside Rice any longer. The decision was made for them because there was no way that the team could put Rice in a Ravens jersey after what football fans saw on their phones, tablets and laptops. The Ravens would've faced protests in front of every stadium and may have had to endure a backlash from their own fan base.

Still, it took the Ravens nearly 10 hours after the latest video came out for them to issue a 12-word media release: "The Baltimore Ravens terminated the contract of RB Ray Rice this afternoon."

By doing so, the Ravens have a major question mark in the backfield as well as a salary-cap mess in 2015, when they have to absorb a $9.5 million cap hit. The Ravens also have to deal with a major distraction three days before facing the rival Pittsburgh Steelers.

But there's no one suggesting any sympathy for the Ravens' current situation. The Ravens finally made the right decision. It just took them seven months to do it.