And now stands the Shield, with a hole in it you could drive several careers through.
Ray Rice's, certainly, for a left hook that should have made him a guest in the Graybar Hilton, and at the very least should have left him outside the protection of the Shield, aka the NFL.
But Roger Goodell, you should drive his career through the Shield's smoking ruin, too. Also everyone in the front office of the Ravens', who could have slammed Rice with a team penalty on top of Goodell's weak-kneed response but chose not to do so. Also all the best legal minds in Atlantic County, New Jersey, such as they are.
And who may or may not have seen the video of Rice turning loose his inner Joe Frazier on the woman he allegedly loves, but certainly saw him dragging her unconscious body out of the elevator. And did nothing.
Nope, no sir, nothin' to see here, folks. Just a couple lovebirds havin' a little squabble. Heck, we don't know how she wound up knocked colder than Hitler's heart. Maybe she slipped or something.
Certainly the Ravens and the NFL did so, and yesterday just made it worse. Caught red-handed at last, the Ravens, after muddying the waters by throwing out words like "provocation," suddenly had an attack of conscience and cut Rice loose. And the NFL, after apologizing for the two-game suspension and trying to make nice with the public with some new, stiffer penalties for domestic violence, suddenly was banning Rice indefinitely after swearing on a stack of Bibles there was nothing further it could do to him.
Not that they were fooling anyone. From beginning to end, since Goodell slapped Rice on the wrist and said "Now, Ray, don't do that again, you naughty boy" it's all been an astonishingly clumsy makeup call by an entity that supposedly has the PR thing covered.
Not this time. This time, it's obvious even to the ninniest of ninnies that this has all been the NFL cynically protecting its brand as a League That Cares About Wimmin, all while keeping a greedy eye on the female demo of its gravy train.
Because, listen, the NFL is a business, surprise, surprise, and so every decision it makes is ultimately about business. Nowhere was that more nakedly obvious than Monday, because Monday wasn't about what the NFL or the Ravens saw on that TMZ video or when they saw it. It was about the fact America saw it, and that's the only reason Rice was cast into outer darkness.
And so the league and the Ravens get no points for any of it. What still speaks louder is the thundering silence with which the Ravens greeted Rice's initial suspension. What speaks louder is Goodell conducting his interview with Janay Palmer with Ray Rice in the room, and then deciding, well, gosh, she said she was at fault, too.
Goodell should have lost his job right then and there. He certainly should now.
No amount of Breast Cancer Awareness Pink can obscure that.