It must be real challenge to cover the domestic-violence drama of Ray and Janay Rice -- the actual story of the human beings themselves, as opposed to the melodrama within the bazillion-dollar kingdom called the National Football League -- without including some of the Godtalk.
Mr. and Mrs. Rice continue to talk about sin, forgiveness and redemption. The same goes for the Ravens head coach, who is an outspoken Christian, and ditto for the general manager. The team's director of player development (and moral issues) is an ordained minister. Many of Ray Rice's closest friends among Ravens players -- like wide receiver Torrey Smith -- are Godtalkers as well.
How do you quote these people without covering the religion angle?
Faithful GetReligion readers know that the team at The Baltimore Sun is up to that challenge.
Thus, I was curious to see what would happen when Rice won his battle with the NFL powers that be and was reinstated as an active player in the league. It's the hottest storyline of the pro-football weekend and, here in Baltimore, local news channels ran BREAKING NEWS! alerts onscreen during regular programming for two or three hours, which wouldn't happen if there was a peace settlement in Syria.
The Sun team kept Godtalk out of the main coverage, but this showed up in a sidebar:
... Smith acknowledged that he still had a close relationship with Rice and wanted to see him get another opportunity to play.
"I don't like what he did, but I don't hate him," Smith said. "We live in a country where you are supposed to truly get second chances and our judicial system is based on that. It's supposed to be, at least. It's not always that way. But [I hope] he gets a chance to redeem himself and show people who he really is, because that guy on that tape made a bad decision."
I guess "redeem" can be taken one of several ways. Then the Sun caught me off guard by flashing back to pick up an interesting quote and then linked it to the present.
Ravens veteran defensive end Chris Canty, who has been an active spokesman against domestic violence, spoke for many of his teammates in September when he said, "I hate the sin, but I love the sinner."
Canty, the Ravens' player union representative, said Rice is worthy of a second chance.
"I think we're a country that believes in second chances," Canty said. "America's game should reflect that. I think that, hopefully, there will be an opportunity for him. I think there should be an opportunity for him. Certainly, he's had his day in court with the legal process and that's run its course with the appeal hearing. I do think he should have a second chance in the National Football League."
Is there any piece of evangelical lingo that annoys mainstream reporters more than "hate the sin, love the sinner"? Surely not.
But I vaguely remembered that Canty quote and, well, this Sun version sounded, uh, incomplete. Let's look at another source -- the Baltimore Beatdown blog -- that covered that press conference.
Rice was more than a co-worker to Canty, he was a friend. Like most of us, Canty is baffled with the situation from someone that seemingly otherwise displayed a high character over the previous six years he was with the team.
"I'm a Christian, you hate the sin but you love the sinner," he said. "I don't want to indict or character assassinate Ray, but it's tough to understand when someone commits an act like that. It's tough to understand and rationalize, it's inexcusable so you recognize that it's out of character and it's disappointing. You're hurt.
"I will ask everyone to be cognizant in the fact that it's easier to point a finger in blame than to lend a hand of help. It's clear they need help for what they're going through and they've been seeking and they will continue to do so I'm sure."
Right. The Sun managed to loose the "I'm a Christian" context. This is par for the course, when dealing with the newspaper that lands in my front yard.
If you are interested in the Rice drama -- again, at the human level -- you are going to want to read the new ESPN feature that is based on verbatim quotes from Janay Rice herself. She was a communications major in college, so I think she probably did most of the writing herself.
It is not drenched in religion, but does talk about the Christian counseling program that they turned to for help. And then, at the end, Janay Rice has this to say:
I've learned a lot about myself. I've realized how strong I am. People ask me how I've gotten through this and I honestly cannot put it into words. I have grown closer to God. My faith has gotten me through each day. It's been hard accepting the fact that God chose us for this, but at the same time it's put us in the position to help others. We know our incident led to very important discussions to hashtags of "why I stayed" and "why I left." If it took our situation becoming headline news to show domestic violence is happening in this country, that's a positive.
I hope when people read this they realize that we're real. I want people to know how much we love each other and how far we've come.
Everyone has their own story, this is mine.
Read it all, if you are interested in human beings, as opposed to NFL executives and lawyers.