Why Cris Carter and Janay Rice are Right: From an ex-NFL wife and trauma surgeon

Just because your grandmother did it doesn’t make it right, and husbands can be abused, too.


This past Sunday, I was absolutely riveted by the NFL Sunday Countdown on ESPN – For those of you who know me and are currently checking the authorship of this piece, yes it is me, surgeoninkicks, writing.

Although I typically would rather watch paint dry than sit through a football show on top of the already vast amount of games I am forced to watch, this past Sunday’s show was different.  Instead of a bunch of talk about who was going to win which game, I sat and watched 5 men of different ages and backgrounds debate discipline, corporal punishment, child abuse and domestic abuse.  With the recent cases involving Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy, Ray McDonald, and Ray Rice, these topics were debated with intelligence and passion.   And Cris Carter earned my utmost respect as a human being.

Carter: “My mom did the best job that she could do, raising seven kids by herself, but there are thousands of things that I have learned since then that my mom was wrong. It’s the 21st century. My mom was wrong. She did the best she could, but she was wrong about some of that stuff she taught me. And I promised my kids I won’t teach that mess to them. You can’t beat a kid to make them do what they want to do. … The only thing that I’m proud about is the team that I played for [the Vikings]. They did the right thing: take ‘em off the field.”

I’m sorry, but the excuse of, “That’s how I was raised” just doesn’t cut it.  It sure as hell doesn’t work in regards to racism anymore, does it?  If one of your 30 year old friends tries to explain that because they grew up with parents who used racist slurs they are allowed or given a pass to do so, you would cry BS in a heartbeat.

If we lived today how our grandparents lived, we would be using slide rulers instead of calculators, smoking on airplanes, and listening to the radio for our evening entertainment.  Asian people would still be referred to as “Orientals”.  Share cropping and segregation would still exist.  None of these aspects of common, everyday life for our grandparents is common or everyday anymore because we have EVOLVED. We have LEARNED from the mistakes of our past.

Yes, you may be where you are today because of what was done to you, or maybe in spite of what was done to you.  But do not confuse discipline with abuse.  Discipline is teaching your child to respect your authority, not to repeat unhealthy or dangerous behaviors, and to behave responsibly and politely, even when they don’t want to.  Discipline can be and is taught through a variety of methods and techniques.  I’m not going to get into a debate on corporal punishment, but as a surgeon who specializes in traumatic injuries, let me clear up a few things for you.

1.  Discipline does not leave marks on a child’s body.  EVER.  As a physician, I should never see any physical signs or symptoms of your discipline… not the day after, not even the hour after the punishment was given.

2.  Objects should never be used to enforce pain upon your child.  Belts, extension cords, whips, etc.  If you can’t get the point across with the flat palm of your hand or some other method of punishment, then trust me, the belt is not going to fix it.  For those of you who want to say that your child has outgrown your hand, just know that then he or she has outgrown your methods.  Pick a new one.


I think almost everyone has seen the video of the argument and physical fight between Ray and Janay Rice, which started before they got into and continued in an elevator in Atlantic City during the offseason.

Janay has been criticized for “regretting” her role in the incident.  I applaud her for that statement.  I am not in her house, none of us are.  But here is what I will tell you.  They have known each other/been dating since high school.  I feel it is a safe assumption they are more mature and hopefully better able to express themselves now than 8 years ago.  I would then lay my next paycheck that this was not the first time either one of them were physical with the other.

No, I am not saying anything was Janay Rice’s “fault”.  What I am saying is that she knows her relationship with her now husband, and who are we to judge if she feels like her behavior incited or escalated the situation?  This IS a possibility.

I do not view physical assault the same as rape.  A woman is allowed to be physically intimate with a man up until the point she is comfortable and allowed to say stop.  But, when a woman hits a man, is it then okay for her to say stop when he hits her back? What if the wife is physically bigger than her husband?  Okay, let’s take it a step further… what if the woman is Laila Ali?  Is she allowed a free punch or two at her husband before he can hit her back?  What if it is a same sex couple?

Battered wife syndrome…100% exists.  I also believe that abusive relationships exist… with both spouses having the potential for being abused.  Unfortunately, I have witnessed firsthand a relationship in which it was the woman who repeatedly pressed buttons, pushed, slapped and provoked her boyfriend until he did physically strike her back.  Then, she cried foul.  And did this stop after one occurrence?  No.  This became a terrible, vicious cycle, which resulted in him luckily losing a girlfriend but unluckily gaining a police record.

Let’s allow Janay Rice to regret a horrible, personal situation, and let’s not allow Adrian Peterson to hide behind, “but that is how I was raised.”

Bottom line, you don’t ever put your hands on another human in anger.  It doesn’t matter if it is your child, your wife, or your husband.

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