The NFL appears to be the new bad boy league, taking the torch from the NBA. The National Football League recently has just gotten through its first month in a couple of years without any of its players getting arrested. In the media, we hear countless stories of domestic violence, drug abuse, sexual assault, and driving under the influence. It is an epidemic that the NFL has tried to abolish recently by laying down the law through heavy fines and suspensions. The most notable of all these recent incidences is Ray Rice’s (former running back of the Baltimore Ravens) case of domestic violence. Ray Rice was arrested and charged with assault because of his physical altercation with his fiancée (now, wife), where he was seen punching and then dragging her out of an elevator. All of this was caught on tape for the whole world to see. Criminal charges were dropped after Rice agreed to undergo counseling, however he was suspended from only two games during the NFL season, which was heavily scrutinized by NFL fans and woman’s activists as being way too lenient. The NFL claimed that they never saw the video of the actual dispute in the elevator. Later, the Raven’s terminated Rice’s employment. Despite many people valuing second chances, no other teams have picked up Ray Rice. In response to the domestic violence incident, many former Ray Rice fans sought to exchange their #27 Ray Rice jerseys for another Ravens player’s jersey and were allowed to do so. The Patriots offered the same deal when their former tight end, Aaron Hernandez was charged with murder. Other inventive fans sought to make a greater statement. In place of refraining from buying or wearing their Ray Rice jerseys, they decided to show resistance through a more artistic expression. As in the photo shown above, fans changed their Ray Rice jerseys to make a statement. For instance, they use the name on the jersey to project a different meaning. In essence, it can be seen as a form of detournement. As seen above, the jersey uses the last name Rice and changes it to say “BE NICE TO GIRLS” by changing the R in “Rice” to an N. Many people alter their jerseys when their favorite player gets traded. They simply put tape over the old name and put in a new name with the player that has the same number. However, in the Rice jersey case, the parents who situated this jersey for their daughter are using a more artistic approach to criticize Ray Rice’s actions and raise awareness of domestic violence. It is apparent that this is a Ray Rice jersey, but by adding and changing the words, it employs a different meaning. This is not the only instance of criticism and exploitation of Ray Rice’s troubled past. Some critics have also ventured to show that Ray Rice is a criminal through their own clothing. By writing “Rice” and the number 27 onto a white sleeveless undershirt also known as a “wife beater,” the artist implies that Ray Rice is what the apparel is, a “wife beater.” Even if you look up Ray Rice’s name on Google images, you will find an image of this undershirt, even without the writing. This art disrupts the image of Ray Rice. It shows him to be a “wife beater” rather than an all-pro running back, which he formerly was. These actions that modify sports jerseys, including burning them, serve as a sign of protest. Furthermore, these images magnify Ray Rice’s negative image of a cruel, aggressive, and savage man. Along with the video of the act, these concrete images are tangible reminders of Ray Rice’s actions. In the past, many NFL players have gotten multiples chances to reform their behavior and continue playing in the league. Greg Hardy, the former defensive end for the Panthers, was also accused of domestic violence. He continued on to get an offer from the Dallas Cowboys during the offseason. Players will often see second chances come their way if their field value is worth putting up with. Other players who have run-ins with the law who do not have the same value on the field are expendable, and thus never get another chance to play. Greg Hardy is just an example of a player who got a second chances partly because of their production on the field. Ray Rice is a Pro Bowl caliber running back, or a least he was. However, no other NFL team has picked him up. He is not likely to receive his second chance. The NFL is basically making an example of him, laying down the law and attempting to eliminate the domestic violence issues that have plagued the league for quite some time now. Also, the power of the image has played a role in Rice’s suspension. Americans saw, with their own eyes, the video of Ray Rice knocking out his fiancée and dragging her out. There is no speculation, just cold-blooded facts. The images of the edited jerseys of former fans further disrupts Rice’s image, creating further antagonism and disdain, and points to his evil acts. It gives the fans of the NFL a chance to give their input on the matter. The sheer brutality alone is enough to create hatred for Rice. No team wants that distraction in their locker room. But it is this art and editing of sporting jerseys that keeps the memory of Ray Rice’s actions current and alive. Ray Rice legacy seems to be cemented in that single moment in the elevator, despite his great achievements on the field.

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